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Bell v. Southwell

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
376 F.2d 659 (1967)


In a 1965 Justice of the Peace special election, an African American woman, Mrs. Bell (plaintiff), ran as one of the candidates and lost. The voter-registration rolls listed 1,223 African Americans eligible to vote. The election was decided by 2,781 total votes. Out of this total, African American voters cast 403 ballots. Mrs. Bell filed suit challenging this outcome based on racial discrimination. The cause of action alleged that the election operated with racially segregated voter lists and polling booths. Authorities prevented African American women from voting in booths reserved for White women. Mrs. Bell's complaint further alleged voter intimidation by police and White voters. Further allegations included authorities preventing Mrs. Bell's representatives from observing the polling place. The disobedience of Mrs. Bell led to her arrest. Mrs. Bell's cause of action requested the voiding of the election and the institution of a new election. The trial court found that invidious racial discrimination occurred. However, the trial court refused to invalidate the election.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

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