A judge in Memphis ruled Wednesday that Tennessee lawmakers can go ahead with efforts to void a disputed state Senate election.
But U.S. District Judge Bernice Donald said they cannot throw out challenged ballots without first making sure they are invalid.
The ruling came on a lawsuit filed by newly elected Senator Ophelia Ford of Memphis and five other voters of Senate District 29.
The Senate's Republican majority is trying to void Ford's 13-vote victory last year in a special election to replace her brother, John Ford who resigned in May following an indictment on federal corruption charges.
Terry Roland, Ophelia Ford's Republican opponent in the election, and his supporters contend as many as 150 improper votes were cast by convicted felons, nonresidents of the Senate district and others.
There also have been accusations that some votes were cast in behalf of dead people.