Prosecutors argued that the group conspired to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy votes in one of the nation’s poorest counties in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Attorneys for the eight argued that witnesses were unreliable and that Reeves allowed prosecutors to present some evidence that was not proper.
Several other local officials pleaded guilty to vote-buying and corruption charges in related cases.
The appeals court overturned the conviction not because the vote buying and massive scheme did not happen,but rather because the prosecution also entered evidence of drug dealing which was irrelevant to the charge of vote fraud.
[Judge Moore writing for the court stated:] “In sum, the evidence of widespread drug dealing in Clay County did not serve as a prelude to the present case or help complete the story of the offense.”
The defendants did not win on every point. The appeals panel said [the trial judge] Reeves properly ruled that vote-buying was a proper element to use in prosecuting the eight under a racketeering law. Moore also found that prosecutors had sufficient evidence against Adams to convict him of vote buying.
This case once again proves how difficult it is to prosecute vote fraud even when it is widespread and massive. The fraud started over a decade ago and the case is not complete despite the guilt of the defendants not being in doubt. More importantly it goes to show how the poor are taken advantage of and disenfranchised. Those in the economically depressed Clay County who voted legally were disenfranchised by the fraudulent votes arranged for and bought by the corrupt political bosses.