Group's attorney planning appeal to get members back on voter rolls
The Macon Telegraph,
June 23, 2000
By Rob Peecher
EATONTON - The Putnam County Board of Registrars began disqualifying members of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors from voter rolls despite testimony and evidence presented by some of those people during a hearing Wednesday The hearing continued into the night, but at The Macon Telegraph's deadline Wednesday, six of the 91 people subpoenaed to prove their residency had been removed from the voter list.Three of those six did not attend the hearing. The other three attended, swore an oath that their testimony would be true, and presented at least some documentation that they lived at the address they claimed on voter registration applications.An attorney representing several of the Nuwaubians, Merrick Bernstein of Atlanta, raised questions and objected when the board voted to purge some of his clients without stating a reason.Trenton Brown III, a board of registrars member who was conducting the hearing, threatened to have Bernstein removed from the courtroom if he continued to ask questions."There will be absolutely no more questions from that side of the bar," Brown said.The board continued one man's case, because he did not bring the documents required by the subpoena he received.Last week, the board of registrars held the first in a series of hearings to determine if people who do not live in Putnam County have been registering to vote here. At that hearing, 23 people were purged from the voter list, three were kept on the voter rolls, and another 91 cases were continued to Wednesday's hearing.Of those 91, 45 people attended last week's hearing and refused to take an oath and testify before the board, and another 46 simply did not attend. Nearly three hours into Wednesday's hearing, the majority of those 91 cases had yet to be called. Unlike last week's meeting, those called Wednesday agreed to take the oath that the evidence they presented and the testimony they gave would be true.Questions about the status of the 91 voters and as many as 200 more were raised after Putnam County Registrar Marianne Tanner received several voter registration cards on the same day giving addresses as 173 Shady Dale Road. Tanner knew there were several people already registered to vote at that address and began going through the voter rolls. She determined 58 people were registered to vote at one of four addresses in addition to the 35 registered to vote at 173 Shady Dale Road, where there are three trailers and a house.Most, but not all, of the voters whose status is being challenged by the board of registrars are people affiliated with the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.At least two more hearings are expected to be held in upcoming weeks. Elections investigators from the Secretary of State's Office have attended both hearings so far.In the cases of the 23 purged during last week's hearing, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills found evidence that they had registered to vote in Putnam County and had since obtained driver's licenses using out-of-county addresses. That evidence was used to purge those people from the voter rolls.Late events from Wednesday night's hearing will be included in Friday's Telegraph.
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