A federal appeals panel has upheld the conviction of Noxubee County Democratic chairman Ike Brown for violating the rights of 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 S. 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 that white voters were disenfranchised by a black official, the Justice Department had accused Brown of trying to limit whites' 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 that he tried to limit anyone's rights. Brown said he was proud of his efforts to get more blacks to vote, whether by absentee ballot or getting them to the polls.
Brown said he would consider an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. A Justice Department spokesman had no immediate comment.
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