The Athens-Clarke County Commission passed a resolution last week condemning Georgia’s new voting law and calling for making voting easier.
The resolution directs ACC staff “to create as many avenues as possible to retain access to the franchise,” Mayor Kelly Girtz said. It says the Board of Elections will conduct a voter education campaign next year and open additional in-person early voting locations.
In response to record turnout last year that flipped Georgia blue and conspiracy theories about election fraud, Republican legislators passed Senate Bill 202, which makes voting absentee more difficult by requiring photo ID, shrinking the window to request a ballot and reducing the number and hours of ballot drop boxes. It also adds one Saturday of early voting.
“It’s up to us to save democracy,” Commissioner Melissa Link said. “Democracy is really in peril right now.”
The commission also accepted the donation of a $225,000 playscape at Sandy Creek Nature Center—and committed to making the playscape more accessible to the disabled. While it meets American with Disabilities Act requirements, according to the Leisure Services Department, parents of disabled children said Leisure Services should go further by making it ADA inclusive, not just ADA compliant.
“We need to be going further so that we really generally are making sure these play centers are welcoming to all families and children,” Commissioner Tim Denson said. He introduced a commission-defined option instructing staff to meet with disabled residents, asking Girtz to assign the issue of inclusive facilities to a committee and re-establishing ACC’s Commission on People with Disabilities. The motion passed 9-1, with Commissioner Allison Wright opposed. Wright said she felt the proposal was rushed.
The commission also:
• lowered the speeding and traffic thresholds for neighborhoods to request traffic-calming measures.
• approved homes for at-risk mothers and children on Freeman Drive at the former site of People of Hope, a proposed mobile home park for displaced immigrant residents that was never built.
• approved a boat launch off Macon Highway.
• selected Andrew Kovacs for a public art project on the North Oconee River Greenway at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
• renamed the Lay Park gym and the East Athens Community Center for longtime Leisure Services employees Willie Hull and Aaron Heard.
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