06/05/2012 03:31 pm ET Updated Jun 05, 2012

Bill Pascrell: Rival's Attempt To Impound Absentee Ballots 'Worse Than Jim Crow'

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) had some harsh words for his chief opponent on Tuesday morning -- the day of their Democratic primary face-off -- calling Rep. Steve Rothman's attempt to impound absentee ballots "worse than Jim Crow."

The comments are a reference to Rothman's effort to have about 2,000 absentee ballots impounded after his lawyer complained about irregularities in the absentee voting process.

"It's the most pathetic thing I've ever seen in politics," Pascrell told the New Jersey Star-Ledger as he arrived to cast his vote in the heated battle for New Jersey's redrawn 9th Congressional District. "To deny people the right to vote, to manufacture a reason why votes are not counted, it's worse than Jim Crow."

A New Jersey state judge on Monday night sided with Pascrell, ending the impoundment of vote-by-mail ballots within the district hours before voters headed to the polls. HuffPost's John Celock has background on the story:

Rothman had requested the impoundment of the 2,000 ballots Friday, citing potential voting irregularities with vote-by-mail ballots in Passaic County and the city of Paterson, Pascrell's home base. Passaic County's chief elections administrator granted Rothman's request Monday. Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposella overturned the impoundment following a Monday evening hearing in Paterson.

"Since deciding to pack up his home and flee the fight against the tea party in favor of initiating a primary against a Democrat, Steve Rothman has proven time and again he will say and do anything for two more years in Congress," Pascrell campaign manager Justice Myers said in a statement. "This frivolous legal action at taxpayer expense is the cherry on top of Steve Rothman's entire campaign strategy and tonight's court decision to prevent the Rothman campaign's efforts to suppress the vote in Paterson represents another huge victory."

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