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Claims of voter suppression by grassroots organization dismissed by senior citizens

The grassroots group had initially called the move "voter suppression, pure and simple."

LOUISVILLE, Ga. -- Two days after a grassroots organization referred to efforts to remove seniors from a bus going to vote in an east Georgia community as voter suppression, a number of those seniors said the noise was much ado about nothing.

On Monday, Black Voters Matter, a grassroots voting rights organization attempted to take a group of about 40 African American senior citizens from Louisville, Ga., to the polls on the first day of early voting in Georgia. Louisville is about 50 miles southwest of Augusta.

According to a post on the group's Facebook page, before the bus could depart the senior's center, the seniors were removed from the bus. The post referred to the move as "voter suppression pure and simple."

According to Tammie Brett, director of the community center, which is operated by Jefferson County, the center had already made arrangements to take the seniors to go vote in their own vehicles. Brett felt that since this was the case, as opposed to having a private entity step in was not something that they should have a hand in.

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The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners released a statement, which said, in part, "Jefferson County Administration felt uncomfortable with allowing Senior Center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party."

The statement went on to point out that none of the people present was stopped from voting. "No seniors at the Jefferson County Senior Center were denied their right to vote."

The Black Voters Matter organization denied that their event was a political event, and pointed out that they did not tell anyone who to vote for or how to vote.

"These elders have been through this time and time again, so today was fuel to our fire," the group said on Monday.

In the days since Monday, all of the senior citizens actually have been able to go vote, according to 11Alive's Doug Richards, who visited the center on Wednesday.

Adam Brett, Jefferson County Administrator (left) and Tammie Bennett, director of the senior's center (2nd from left)

In speaking to some of the seniors at the center, Richards learned that while they understand the stated purpose of the Black Voters Matter bus and organization, they disagreed with their claims of voter suppression.

ALSO | Early voting begins on Monday, October 15 for the November General Election

The Black Voters Matter organization has chartered a bus which is driving to locations across the South, encouraging black voters to get out to the polls during this year's mid-term election season.

The organization's website says they advocate for policies to expand voting rights and access, including expanded early voting, resisting voter ID, re-entry restoration of rights and strengthening the Voting Rights Act.

Early voting will run in most locations across the state through Nov. 2.