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THE NATION

Judge: Whites faced election bias in Miss.

June 30, 2007|From Bloomberg News

JACKSON, MISS. — The head of a Mississippi Democratic Party organization illegally suppressed white residents' votes, a federal judge ruled Friday in the first case filed by the Justice Department alleging that whites were subjected to voting discrimination based on their race.

U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee found that Ike Brown, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee of Noxubee County, Miss., violated the Voting Rights Act by issuing different procedures for collecting and counting absentee ballots from white and black voters.

The executive committee, also found liable in the case, is responsible for administering Democratic primaries in the county. Brown, who is black, has led the committee since 2000.

Lee said there was "ample direct and circumstantial evidence of an intent to discriminate against white voters."

Brown made "a concerted effort to illegally assist black voters" and recruited ineligible black candidates to run against white candidates, the judge said.

Brown said at trial that the government's suit was a perversion of the voting rights law and called the discrimination claim "preposterous."

The judge said he would consider a remedy at a later date.

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