Court: Dem chairman disenfranchised white voters

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a 2007 ruling by U.S. District Judge Tom Lee, siding with the Justice Department against Brown. The panel’s decision came Friday.

In a rare case that used the 1965 Voting Rights Act to assert white voters were disenfranchised by a black official, the Justice Department had accused Brown of trying to limit white voters’ participation in local elections.

The 5th Circuit panel agreed with Lee, saying Brown and the local Democratic Executive Committee “engaged in a series of episodic practices – in obtaining a large number of black absentee ballots, in preventing the proper challenges to absentee ballots, and in permitting numerous instances of improper voter assistance – that diluted the votes of white Democrats.”

Brown, reached Monday by cell phone, denied he tried to limit anyone’s rights. Brown said he was proud of his efforts to get more black residents to vote, whether by absentee ballot or getting them to the polls.

“Did Judge Lee rule I kept anybody from voting? No,” Brown told The Associated Press. “Did Judge Lee rule that I kept anybody from running? No. Judge Lee said because there were so many blacks voting absentee, it must be fraudulent. How do you defend against that?

“Nobody has brought charges of absentee voting fraud in Noxubee County.”

Clarion Ledger