POLITICS

University Of Georgia Approves Voting Site After Suppression Allegations

The school faced charges of hypocrisy because it had refused an on-campus site due to COVID-19 fears, yet plans to host football games with fans.

The University of Georgia reversed its field on Thursday, approving on-campus early voting for the Nov. 3 election after students and others accused the school of voter suppression. The polling site will be in the basketball arena.

The university, located in Athens, had initially rejected options for voting at the school over coronavirus fears, prompting critics to call out UGA’s hypocrisy because it’s expected to host football games with thousands of fans.

UGA Votes, a student voting rights group, tweeted Wednesday that the university had rejected possible campus voting locations over health liability concerns. UGA Votes wrote that it had proposed the school’s basketball arena for safer social distancing, but said that was nixed. UGA said in response it would provide shuttles to a voting location near the school. 

The outcry was swift. Critics online said the university was sending wildly mixed messages about its pandemic precautions because in-class learning was already in progress and UGA has been preparing for its football team’s home opener on Oct. 3 against Auburn University. Around 20,000 fans could be allowed, according to a previously reported plan.

Critics said the University of Georgia was being hypocritical because it initially denied an on-campus voting site while plan
Critics said the University of Georgia was being hypocritical because it initially denied an on-campus voting site while planning to host football games with fans.

School spokesman Greg Trevor defended the football schedule, writing that safety protocols were established and that the games took place outdoors. But on Thursday the university appeared to completely walk back its initial stance on school voting. It offered Stegeman Coliseum, where the Bulldogs basketball team plays, as a polling station. Election authorities approved the site later in the day.

“We are pleased to announce that Stegeman Coliseum at the University of Georgia has been approved by state and local officials to serve as an early voting site on the UGA campus,” Trevor said in a statement to HuffPost. “Social distancing protocols will be followed in this large, indoor venue.”