Voters cast their ballots. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Election officials in Georgia on Friday scrapped a widely criticized proposal to close seven of the nine polling stations in a majority-black county less than three months before the midterm elections amid widespread outrage that it would suppress black voters.

Why it matters: The closures in the rural Democratic leaning Black Belt — which President Obama carried in 2008 and 2012, and Hillary Clinton won in 2016 — could have had significant implications in one of the most hotly contested races in November.

  • Meanwhile, Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state House minority leader who is seeking to become the country’s first black female governor, is heavily relying on highly motivated liberals and nonwhite voters to pull off a victory. The latest census figures says that Randolph County is more than 61% black.

The details: The decision comes the morning after officials terminated the contract of the proposal’s architect. Michael Malone, who was hired this spring to run elections, recommended the closures last week, saying it would be a cost-saving measure and that the sites are in disrepair and inaccessible for persons with disabilities.

  • But voting rights advocates asked why the polling sites were opened for the primary and runoff elections earlier this year if they are not in compliance with federal law. They also argued that proposed closures are located in areas where car ownership is below average, and public transportation is virtually nonexistent — making it logistically difficult for especially low-income residents to vote.

In a statement after Friday's meeting, the board said the county’s population and tax base had declined in recent years, and that there had been discussions regarding the number of polling places to save money. However, after acknowledging the uproar prompted by the proposal, it said it would not follow through with it.

The big picture: For decades, proposals like the one in Randolph County were subject to federal pre-clearance. But the Supreme Court in 2013 nullified a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, which had required jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to seek federal approval before changing their voting laws.

  • The 5-4 ruling in Shelby v. Holder had paved the way for a deluge of restrictive voting laws, leaving minorities' voting rights more vulnerable to suppression.

Read more: The SCOTUS decision enabling voting restrictions

Go deeper

President Trump's suburbs

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.

President Trump cast an outdated vision of "the 'suburban housewife'" as he swiped this week at Joe Biden's newly minted running mate Kamala Harris — building on his months-long play to drive a wedge through battleground-state suburbs by reframing white voters' expectations.

The big picture: As he struggles to find an attack that will stick against the Biden campaign, Trump for a while now has been stoking fears of lawless cities and an end to what he's called the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream.” It’s a playbook from the ‘70s and ‘80s — but the suburbs have changed a lot since then.

Trump tightens screws on ByteDance to sell Tiktok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump added more pressure Friday night on China-based TikTok parent ByteDance to exit the U.S., ordering it to divest all assets related to the U.S. operation of TikTok within 90 days.

Between the lines: The order means ByteDance must be wholly disentangled from TikTok in the U.S. by November. Trump had previously ordered TikTok banned if ByteDance hadn't struck a deal within 45 days. The new order likely means ByteDance has just another 45 days after that to fully close the deal, one White House source told Axios.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 21,056,850 — Total deaths: 762,293— Total recoveries: 13,100,902Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m ET: 5,306,215 — Total deaths: 168,334 — Total recoveries: 1,796,309 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: CDC: Survivors of COVID-19 have up to three months of immunity Fauci believes normalcy will return by "the end of 2021" with vaccine — The pandemic's toll on mental health — FDA releases first-ever list of medical supplies in shortage.
  4. States: California passes 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
  5. Cities: Coronavirus pandemic dims NYC's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light.
  6. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  7. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.