McDaniel campaign probes Hancock poll records for ‘voting irregularities’
By Dwayne Bremer
Jul 3, 2014, 19:28
Officials representing state Sen. Chris McDaniel's campaign probed through election material at the Hancock County Courthouse on Thursday.
Officials representing state Sen. Chris McDaniel visited the Hancock County Courthouse Thursday to review redacted copies of poll books from the June 24 GOP senate runoff.
Sen. Thad Cochran defeated McDaniel on June 24, by about 6,700 votes state-wide.
McDaniel has refused to concede the election and in the past two weeks and his campaign has been sending representatives to each of Mississippi's 82 counties, trying to find irregularities during the election.
Keith Plunkett, McDaniel's director of policy, said Thursday that the campaign has been finding election irregularities in most of the counties it has reviewed.
"There have been cases of people who voted Democrat in the June 3 election and were allowed to vote in the runoff," Plunkett said. "There have also been other irregularities found. We want to make sure we are able to ask questions about them."
Plunkett said the McDaniel campaign is considering an official challenge of the election, but no decision has been made.
"That is still pending our review of all 82 counties," he said.
McDaniel lost in Hancock County on June 3 by about 300 votes, but he won Hancock County in the runoff on June 24.
Cochran, however, was able to defeat McDaniel state-wide, in part, McDaniel said because of a large Democratic cross-over vote.
In Mississippi, voters do not have to declare a particular political party. Only voters who cast ballots in the Democratic primary on June 3 were barred from voting in the runoff.
The runoff saw 60,000 more voters turn out state-wide than on June 3. Hancock County saw a slightly smaller turnout on June 24. In the three weeks between the two elections, the Cochran campaign turned to many African-American clergymen and community leaders to ask for their support in the runoff. It apparently paid off, as Cochran dominated boxes in many traditional Democratic and African-American areas.
"Today, the conservative movement took a back seat to liberal Democrats in Mississippi," McDaniel said during a speech on June 24.
While McDaniel and his supporters have been searching for voting irregularities, out-of-state Tea Party sympathizers have taken to sites like Twitter to vent their frustration and anger.
Earlier this week, a conservative blogger from California produced a story which accused members of the Cochran campaign of paying a self-titled minister from Meridian $15 for each vote he delivered to the Cochran campaign.
The Cochran campaign has dismissed the story and called the blogger and the minister's creditability into question.
The McDaniel campaign, however, referenced the story in an email sent out Friday.
In the email, the McDaniel campaign asked for donations and said it would be offering 15 rewards of $1,000 each for any information proving voter fraud on June 24.
Other accusations have been leveled against Hinds County Republican Committee member James "Pete" Perry accusing him of colluding with Democrats to stuff the ballot box in Cochran's favor.
Hancock County residents may remember Perry as the man who assisted former Democratic state Sen. Scotty Cuevas in an election challenge in 2007.
Perry was also hired by former Bay St. Louis Mayoral candidate Mike Weems after the 2009 municipal elections.
On Wednesday, the Texas-based group Truth the Vote filed a lawsuit against Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann asking for an injunction to inspect election materials.
On Thursday, Hosemann issued a statement saying his office is in compliance with the law and will be seeking to have the suit dismissed.
Perhaps the strangest episode in the post-runoff saga took place Wednesday when the same blogger, Charles C. Johnson, encouraged followers to crash a conference call hosted by Cochran's campaign. Johnson posted the phone number and pass code for the conference call 15 minutes before it started.
During the conference call, an unidentified man reportedly asked a question about black people picking cotton and Republicans buying black votes. Another unknown person reportedly began playing clips of crickets and the movie "Animal House."
As far as Hancock County, voters here were virtually split between their support of Cochran and McDaniel.
Official results from Hancock County were certified by the Hancock County Republican Executive Committee on Wednesday. McDaniel took 3,301 votes here to Cochran's 3,100.
Hancock County Circuit Clerk Karen Ruhr said Thursday that McDaniel's campaign asked for and received permission to review copies of poll books.
Ruhr said the books were redacted so that no voter's personal information was available to be disclosed.
State party executive committees must have their individual county results certified by July 7.
After that, McDaniel can file a challenge if he chooses.
The winner of the GOP primary will take on Democratic senate candidate Travis Childers in the November general election.