Associated Press
November 2, 2004

Challenge to Hispanic voters in rural Georgia county falls apart

PEARSON, Ga. Officials in a rural Georgia county have thrown out a complaint that required 95 Hispanic residents to attend a hearing to defend their right to vote. Thirty showed up.

The summons resulted from a formal complaint by three men accusing a county commissioner of trying to register non-citizens.

But the Atkinson County Board of Registrars dismissed most of the complaints at the start of the hearing, saying it could open the county to charges of violating the Voting Rights Act.

The complainants declined to present evidence against the two voters remaining, so those complaints were dropped, too.

County Attorney Russ Gillis says the challenges were race-based. Those summoned represent three-quarters of the county's Hispanic population.

The complainants say they acted based on discussions with area Hispanics about who was a citizen.

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