Briefing Paper on the Attacks on African American Voters in the Alabama Black Belt, Prepared for Meeting with U.S. Attorney General Jane Reno, Julian Bond as a Member of the Delegation, 1998 June 11





Jun-11-98 01:33P ky alliance 502 7788130 P.13

Misuse of the Courts --- page 2

[Continued from prev. page] Incumbent white mayor had carriedthe absentee box by a margin of about 3 to 1. Owens subsequently won the second primary. No investigation of the white voters who cast absentee ballots in the first primary was ever undertaken, despite complaints by the Hale County Chapter of the Alabama New South Coalition and other political action groups.

4. Municipal election in the City of Tuscaloosa in 1997. Donald Brown filed an election challenge against Lee Garrison, based on more than 100 votes cast by University of Alabama students in the election. Brown said the students voted illegally in TUscaloosa. A court hearing was held and 75 votes of students were declared illegal. However, this was not enough to overturn the election. Brown reports that of 152 students subpoenaed to the court, nine ignored the subpoenas, but nothing has been done to bring them to justice. All of this involved a civil action, and there were no FBI investigations or criminal charges. All of the voters involved in this situation were white.

5. Selma, AL. In both 1992 and 1996, compaints of voting law violations were filed with the State Attorney General against Mayor Smitherman of Selma. Nothing has ever been done about these complaints.

6. Sumter & Marengo Counties. We are reliably informed that absentee ballots were sent to whites in Sumter and Marengo Counties without applications being made in an apparent effort to defeat African American Barrown Lankster in his race for District Attorney over three counties. The law requires that applications be filed for absentee ballots. To our knowledge, there has been no investigation in this situation.

7. Boilgee in Greene County. in 1994, Pam Montgmery, a white resident of the county, sent letters to Black voters warning them that unless everything was exactly correct in regard to absentee ballot they could get in trouble. These letters were apparently designed to frighten African American voters. To our knowledge, there has been no investigation of this incident.

8. Winston County. On June 8, 1991, the Birmingham News published a major article by writer Robin DeMonia reporting on an exhuastive investigation she had made of absentee voting in this virtually all-white county in the 1990 general election. The article states that Winston had the largest percentage of absentee votes of any county in the state that year, except for Perry. In Winston, 16 percent of the votes cast were absentee; in Perry, the percentage was 19. Greene County had a lower percentage than Winston that year.

This was after the charges involving absentee ballots had been brought against voting rights activists in Greene County and other Black Belt counties in the 1980s The Birmingham News article reported numerous incidents in which Winston County citizens whose ballots were cast by absentee stated that they did not cast such ballots. The article also described a widespread practice in Winston under which certain people collect substantial sums of money from candidates for getting absentee ballots. One man, according to the article, spent 25,000 to such vote-getters in an effort to elect his wife to office.

To our knowledge, there was never a follow-up to this article by either the State Attorney General's office or the U.S. District Attorney in Birmingham, in whose district Winston is located. Nor do we know of any FBI investigation that occured.

Last edit 6 months ago by TrevorRubino06


Jun-11-98 01:35P ky alliance 502 7788130 P.14

Part 4

The Non-Existent Case Against Connie Tyree & Frank Smith and the Questionable Case Against Six Other Greene County Organizers

The two people already convicted and sentenced to 33 months in prison in Greene County are Connie Tyree, a mother and grandmother of small children and long-time community volunteer worker, who has no criminal record, and Frank Smith who was removed from his seal on the County Commision after his conviction.

In the 1994 General election, there were over 1400 absentee ballots cast. Tyree and Smith organized 249 of them by legal methods --- helping people apply for ballots and vote them The FBI questioned almost 1,000 of those who voted absentee that year

Out of all that, the U.S. Attorney's office in Birmingham came into court in the trial of Tyree and Smith with testimony regarding a total of seven ballots that they said were obtained fraudulently.

And every one of the witnesses they produced was questionable --- either in jail or in danger of jail on unrelated charges, or involved in a family dispute with one of the defendants or in a personal dispute with someone who cast an absentee ballot. One witness testified that he been threatened by FBI agents and told he could be jailed on drug charges unless he testified against Tyree. (He did not do so.)

We are prepared to submit to the Attorney General in a later supplement to his paper details on each of these seven witnesses with the request that the office of the Attorney General make a full investigation of this prosecution.

In the meantime, we want to suggest that it is hard to understand how a reputable prosecutor could go into court with a case like this one. at the very least, there is nothing about seven questioned bllots out of a total of 1400, and 249 of them obtained by the defendants to justify statements made by representatives of the U.S. District Attorney's Office and the media that the trial would put an end to widespread "stuffing" of ballot boxes with absentee ballots. It is quite clear that most of the ballots obtained by the defendants could not be challenged in any manner --- or there would have been testimony regarding them ****** In regard to the indictment of the other six organizers in Greene County, this case has not been tried yet, but it should be noted that it involves only 14 ballots out of the 1400 that were cast. Also, most of the charges of the charges against the six are based on applications for ballots, not the ballots themselves.

Even more important, the six are charged with "conspiracy" to commit voter fraud and from the indictment it appears that what they are actually charged with is "conspiring" to work for the election of a particular candidate.

If people can be charged with a crime for working together to support a candidate, our political process is in fundamental danger. Clearly rights are involved that are protected by the First Amendment.

Last edit 6 months ago by TrevorRubino06


Jun-11-98 01:36P ky alliance 502 7788130 P.15


In view of the information presented here, we reccomend the following:

1. That the Attorney General and the Justice Department institute a major investigation of all the circumstances regarding the government's activities in the Black Belt in the wake of the 1994 election.

2. That there be a special investigation of the role of FBI agents in this situation and that steps be taken to insure that they do not intimidate voters in the future.

3.That the nature of the case against the six defendants not yet tried in Greene County be thoroughly investigated and that the Attorney General's office work with the U.S. District Attorney in Birmingham to initiate teh dropping of these cases.

4. Likewise that the nature of the case against Connie Tyree and Frank Smith be thoroughly investiaged and, if the outcome of this investigation proves the injustice we think was done, that the Attorney General work with the District Attorney in Birmingham to confess error in this case and join defendants in asking the higher court to reverse the convictions.

5. That the Attorney General take decisive action to insure that what has happened in Greene County, the faulty prosecutions and the intimidation of voters, not happen again in this county and that these tactics not be extended into other countries where African Americans are effectively and legally exercising their right to vote and to form their own political organizations to serve their interests.

6. That the Attorney General and her staff initiate an agressive program to encourage and support African Americans in the Alabama Black Belt who are working to get citizens to vote in large numbers and hold them up as an example to be followed in otehr areas where voter turnout is disgracefully low.

We respectfully request that our reccomendations be given the most serious consideration.

Last edit 6 months ago by TrevorRubino06


Jun-11-98 01:37P ky alliance 502 7788130 P.16 06/10/1998 14:21 2655722245 GREENECODEM

Absentee Ballots/Total Votes in Green Co. Elections (based on contest with highest turnout)

1st Primary 2nd Primary General Election
1992 740/4061 743/3370 764/4864
1994 1118/4691 103/1327 Approx. 250/4300
1998 147/3928
Absentee Ballots as a Percentage of Total Votes in Greene Co. Elections

1st Primary 2nd Primary General Election
1992 18-19% 22% 16%
1994 23-28% 28-29% 30-32%
1996 6-7% 8% 6%
1998 4%
Last edit 6 months ago by TrevorRubino06
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