Ford complaint over Senate expulsion dismissed

MEMPHIS , Tenn. (AP) - A federal judge Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by state Sen. Ophelia Ford over her expulsion from the Legislature amid allegations of improper voting in a special election two years ago.

Voters in Senate District 29 returned Ford to office last year - despite that expulsion by fellow senators - making arguments in her U.S. District Court suit "largely moot," said a petition filed by her lawyers.

The petition asked for dismissal of Ford's complaint and Judge Bernice Donald granted the request.

Ford, a Democrat, was first sent to the Senate in a midterm election in September 2005.

She won the election by 13 votes, but senators, led by a Republican majority, overturned the results amid complaints that improper ballots were cast, including votes by nonresidents of her district.

Two votes were cast in the names of two dead people.

Ford, who was not accused of election wrongdoing, complained that the Senate acted illegally by throwing out ballots without giving voters a chance to defend their voting rights.

She was elected to a full Senate term in November. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Ford and several voters from her district, had asked Donald for an order voiding the Senate's decision to overturn the special election.

Ford remains in office but was often absent from the Senate during the past legislative session due to poor health.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)