Letter to the Editor: Republican elected officials put politics above safety and well-being of citizens

Quill pan and ink in article about absentee ballots

[Letters to the editor do not necessarily express the views of the Courier. We might agree with them, we might disagree, but they are the opinion of the person submitting them

This letter is from Jacquelyn Bettadapur, Chair of the Cobb Democrats]

Go to any page of the Cobb County Government website and the first thing you see is a COVID-19 alert. There is a COVID-19 Hotline, Cobb County information, court updates regarding cancelled court dates and event cancellation notifications. The front-page headline article is “COVID-19 and Cobb—the latest on the pandemic and county operations.” Even Cobb Board of Elections is aware that we are living in a pandemic, which is why Janine Eveler, Director of Cobb Elections, asked for funds from the county to mail absentee ballot applications to all registered Cobb voters for the November election. 

Yet, when it comes to recognizing the dangers of a pandemic, the Cobb County Commissioners are either in a state of denial or only care about staying in power.  

As the Cobb/Douglas Public Health Department will tell you, COVID cases are spiking in Cobb County.  Georgia is one of twenty-one states in the COVID “Red Zone,” meaning more than 10 percent of diagnostic test results came back positive. WellStar Kennestone Hospital has more COVID cases than any other hospital in the metro area.   

While the frontline workers struggle to care for the sick, at every turn, federal, state and county Republican leadership has been incompetent at best, negligent at worst, in containing this pandemic. Now, county Republican commissioners refuse even to hear a proposal unanimously approved by the Cobb Board of Elections, which would ensure that voters can safely vote on November 3.   

The Cobb Board of Elections is asking for $222,000 dollars of CARES Act funds to mail absentee ballot applications to voters.  Without the benefit of transparency, the Cobb Board of Commissioners voted in private to not let the proposal see the light of day, rejecting a safe, legal, and effective way to vote by refusing to add the Election Board’s request as an agenda item to their August 11 meeting. 

Let’s be clear: it’s not about the money.  They just don’t want you to vote.  That was abundantly clear on June 9, when they made voters in South Cobb wait in long lines for more than three hours to vote.  And it is clear now by refusing to make voting easily accessible to all during a pandemic.  At a time when more people want to vote by mail for their personal protection and safety in what will be a hotly contested election, the choice by some on the Board of Commissioners is clear. We don’t care about your health or your vote.  

The County staff, Board of Elections and the public health department clearly understand the dangers of standing in long lines at the polls during a pandemic: it’s our Republican elected officials who are putting politics above the safety and well-being of our citizens.  

Jacquelyn Bettadapur, Cobb Democrats

Jacquelyn Bettadapur is Chair of the Cobb Democrats