Whereas Fleming was not lead counsel for the county defendants within the federal lawsuit, his current efforts to restrict voting entry within the state angered some Hancock County residents, who’re nonetheless reeling from the battle over voting rolls.
“So many individuals within the county did not know he was the legal professional. Now, some Blacks in the neighborhood who … have an understanding of issues are infuriated,” mentioned Johnny Thornton, who helped launch the federal lawsuit after the Board of Elections and Registration scrubbed him from the voting rolls in 2015.
“We’re one of many poorest counties within the nation, and we’re paying this legal professional and he is in Atlanta creating legal guidelines to additional prohibit our voting rights,” he mentioned.
Protesters demand motion, and get it
Final week, 40 or so protesters, many carrying “Black Voters Matter” T-shirts, took to the steps of the Hancock County Courthouse in Sparta. Their placards left no thriller as to their expectations of the Board of Commissioners at its common assembly:
“Fleming does not care about Hancock”
“A vote for him is a vote in opposition to us”
“Hearth Fleming! Shield our vote!”
“Barry must be suppressed”
The commissioners opted to ask Fleming to step down, although their reasoning isn’t clear: The minutes point out his future with the county was determined in an hourlong government session closed to the general public.
“I do not suppose it wants dialogue,” Commissioner Ted Reid, who was within the session, advised CNN. “Mr. Fleming was requested to resign by unanimous consent.”
They are saying solely, “Unanimous consent by Commissioners to ask Mr. Fleming for resignation,” and add that “whereas the seek for county legal professional companies is in course of,” any authorized issues will probably be addressed by a associate from Fleming’s legislation agency exterior Augusta.
CNN reached out to all the commissioners named within the minutes. BOC Chairwoman Sistie Hudson, BOC clerk Borderick Foster and Commissioners Gloria Cooper, Steve Hill and Randolph Clayton didn’t return CNN’s emails or cellphone calls searching for remark.
Reid didn’t know if Fleming had acquiesced to the BOC’s request, he mentioned Monday, however native media experiences point out Fleming stepped down final week. Fleming, who additionally serves as county legal professional in Burke, Glascock and Putnam counties and has represented a number of small Georgia cities, didn’t return CNN’s requests for remark.
Talking to the lawmaker after a closed-door session on election payments, WXIA reported Fleming mentioned he felt no animus towards the county.
“None in any respect. They’re good individuals, and if I may ever do something sooner or later to assist them, I would be pleased to do it,” he mentioned.
Folks protesting his proposed voting laws “misunderstand” lots of its parts, he mentioned, in keeping with the station, which supplied no elaboration.
Abrams says laws targets Black voters
“The one connection that we are able to discover is that extra individuals of shade voted, and it modified the result of elections in a course that Republicans don’t like,” Abrams advised CNN.
“If elections had been like coastal cities,” Fleming wrote, “absentee balloting can be the shady a part of city down close to the docks you don’t want to wander into.”
Voters nonetheless really feel the sting of being burned
Virtually all the voters focused within the purge had been African American. When resident Larry Webb, who’s Black, went to the BOER to problem White voters he knew had died or moved out of the county, emails revealed within the lawsuit confirmed voting officers didn’t take Webb’s challenges significantly. In addition they declined to ship deputies to the White voters’ properties until Webb paid $50 a pop, the place the BOER had despatched deputies to Black voters’ properties as a courtesy, Webb advised CNN.
Responding to the lawsuit, the election board “strenuously” denied violating any legal guidelines, together with focusing on Black voters.
The federal courtroom reinstated most of the purged voters to the rolls and administered a consent decree, appointing an examiner “who will overview the BOER’s actions concerning checklist upkeep and voter challenges based mostly on residency” and make suggestions on the best way to adjust to state legislation, a courtroom order mentioned.
Examiner Gary Spencer, an Atlanta legal professional, advised CNN in December the county has been “type of noneventful” since his appointment. For a lot of residents, although, it is robust to neglect current historical past.
“What they did was past voter suppression. If one thing is fallacious along with your voter registration, they need to name you and inform you what’s fallacious. What they had been doing is taking you off the rolls, and also you would not discover out till the election,” Webb advised CNN. “They had been making Black votes disappear.”