MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM)– In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day on Monday, Councilmember Tom Hucker and other local officials hosted a community forum to educate residents about voting rights and how to combat voter suppression. During the forum, members watched the screening of Suppressed a documentary about the right to vote.

“The film is a terrific portrayal of efforts to suppress voters in the 2018 midterm elections that denied Stacy Abrams from being the governor of Georgia, but those same voter suppression efforts as the film points out are happening all over the country and we see them right here in Montgomery county. We’ve had our board elections close the most successful African American voting location several years ago in Burtonsville,” said Councilmember Hucker.

“In previous elections, I drove people to the polls,” said active community member Daniel Koroma.

Koroma is a long-time resident of White Oak and says the closest location for him to vote takes several hours to get to. Montgomery County’s board of elections has denied the approval of an early voting center in White Oak and because of this residents like Koroma face difficulty getting to the polls.

“No voter should have to experience 4 hours out of their day just to go vote, even during early voting and on election day so we’re hopefully going to help support and pass the bill that was unanimously approved by the Montgomery County delegation which will be moving through the General Assembly,” said Common Cause Executive Director, Joanne Antoine.

Councilmember Hucker has introduced house Bill-137 requiring the board to open up an early voting center in White Oak which will allow easier access for residents like Koroma.

“Even though every member of the county council, state delegation, and the county executive are all for it the board of elections has said no. So now I’ve asked Senator Smith to put in state legislation to compel them to set up an early voting center in White Oak under state law. We shouldn’t have to go through that trouble, its happening because of the blatant voter suppression by the Montgomery board of elections,” said Councilmember Hucker.

Officials encourage residents to educate themselves about voting, vote early and sign up to help in elections.

“We are resilient, we know that they are making it hard for us to vote but we know we are each other’s assets so therefore we are going to organize and get more people to vote,” said Koroma.

To find your closest polling location click here. To find out if you are registered to vote click here.