Chesapeake, Va. City Council Removes Early Voting Location in Majority-Black Area

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Aug. 15, the Chesapeake, Virginia City Council voted to approve just four early voting satellite locations, cutting the total number of locations by two and eliminating a community center location in a heavily-Black area.

Located in a 54% Black zip code, the Cuffee Community Center was one of two early voting places removed in Tuesday’s vote. A concerned Chesapeake resident bemoaned that the Republican-controlled council’s move “smacks of racism and voter suppression.” Republicans on the council claimed the change was due to cost and low turnout.

In anticipation of the vote, the Democratic Party of Virginia warned that the action “will unambiguously make it harder for Black Virginians to cast their ballot, and is unmistakably voter suppression.” Liam Watson, the press secretary for the party, told Democracy Docket in an email that the decision is “part of a growing pattern in Virginia” and that councils across the commonwealth were working to close early voting locations. 

The move is just the latest anti-voting action by Republicans in the state. Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled House passed a bill that would limit in-person early voting by slashing the early voting period from 45 days to just 14, but the legislation died in the Democratic-controlled Senate.