Groups including the Georgia NAACP and the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a federal lawsuit against the county in December 2015 after hearing from concerned residents. The suit came after the county Board of Elections and Registration, which has a majority of white members, held a dozen hearings ahead of that fall’s election to challenge an estimated 174 of the 988 registered voters in the city of Sparta.
Nearly all of those challenged were black. In some cases, challenges were based on discrepancies in state databases. Others involved residents who had lived their whole lives in Sparta or had never moved out of the county. Others involved unsubstantiated “third party” allegations about individual residents. One elections board member issued her own challenges as a private citizen and then voted to approve those challenges as a member of the board.