MORE CHALLENGES: The McDaniel campaign did not provide a number of how many alleged voting irregularities its volunteers have uncovered, but a campaign spokesman said it was in the ‘many, many thousands.’ .
By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog
An election integrity advocacy group will get its day in court in the Mississippi U.S. Senate race.
True the Vote filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief Wednesday in the U.S. District Court, Southern District in Jackson against the Mississippi Republican Party, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the Mississippi Election Commission and several counties. The restraining order would prevent the alleged “tampering, redaction or destruction of voting records by the parties or their agents.”
True the Vote said it would provide the court with affidavit reports that detailed alleged destruction of absentee ballot applications and mandatory envelopes, illegal alteration of poll books, crossover and double voting and unopened absentee ballots marked accepted.
“Defendant county commissioners have continued to violate federal law by preventing access to election records. Now, we think we know why,” True the Vote founder and president Catherine Engelbrecht said in a media release. “If the affidavits we now have regarding the destruction of election documents and other similarly stunning findings are true, then no Mississippian, no American, can trust the results of this election.”
INCUMBENT: U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran has faced a bruising challenge in the primary in his bid for a seventh term.
Six-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a runoff June 24 by 7,667 votes. Although the results were certified by the secretary of state, the McDaniel campaign still is preparing a challenge.
The campaign’s volunteers are scrutinizing pollbooks and absentee ballot records in Mississippi’s 82 counties, looking for alleged illegal crossover votes. Those voters who cast ballots in the Democratic primary on June 3 are barred, by state law, from voting in the GOP runoff.
“We would hope the Republican leaders in Mississippi and nationally would take this an opportunity to stand for transparency and good government,” said Noel Fritsch, spokesman for the McDaniel Campaign. “This is an opportunity for Thad Cochran to come down here and say ‘we do need to make sure our election process is one with integrity.’ So far, we haven’t seen them do that.”
The McDaniel campaign did not provide a number of how many alleged voting irregularities its volunteers have uncovered, but Fritsch said it was in the “many, many thousands.” He also said that most of the irregularities were allegedly illegal crossover votes.
The McDaniel campaign says its efforts have been met with cooperation in some areas and resistance in others.
“Some counties have been really helpful in allowing access to their election records, and others have certainly used excuses as this needed to be redacted or you have to pay us large sums of money for copies,” Fritsch said. “That’s several examples of the roadblocks we’ve faced as an excuse to prevent us for examining the records. We hope there’d be a more uniform process.”
The counties named in True the Vote’s lawsuit are:
- Jefferson Davis
True the Vote also refiled its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Jackson — after originally filing it in U.S. District Court, Northern District in Oxford — that would order the immediate opening for inspection of election records. Nine counties — Copiah, Hinds, Simpson, Leake, Rankin, Jefferson Davis, Madison, Yazoo and Lauderdale — and their respective election commissions were named in the lawsuit.
Hosemann issued a statement about the suit, citing state law that mandates a voter’s birthdate and Social Security number are to be redacted from any pollbooks.
“The state doesn’t have the records requested by the refiled lawsuit and should be dismissed,” Hosemann said in a statement. “The Mississippi Legislature enacted a law to protect your birthdate and your Social Security number from public dissemination. Your locally-elected circuit clerks are just following the law.”