TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Smith County Commissioners Court defied claims by a small group of citizens that they were engaging in voter suppression by placing a voting center at the Smith County Juvenile Services Center.
Three people, two white women and one white man, claimed that the commissioners were engaging in voter suppression with the placement of the voting center.
One woman spoke of how it could intimidate potential voters, particularly those of color away from voting.
“What on earth gave you the notion that putting a polling location in a correction facility was a good idea?… I leave you with two words: voter suppression.”
Commissioner JoAnn Hampton, the lone African-American on the court, forcefully rejected the citizens’ claims and found them offensive.
“I do not appreciate you saying that we are doing voter suppression because we are not. This is a vote center. If you do not want to go vote there, you do not have to. You can vote anywhere in Smith County.”Commisssioner JoAnn Hampton, Precinct 4
She also went on to say that she has not received one phone call from a resident to raise concerns and neither had any other commissioner.
All the other commissioners thanked Hampton for her statement with County Judge Nathaniel Moran reiterating that under the law, Smith County residents are not restrained to one voting center; they can vote wherever they want in the county.
The court then took a vote and unanimously approved the addition of the Juvenile Center onto the list of polling locations.