McDaniel still not conceding as supporters examine ballots

Supporters of GOP Senate candidate Chris McDaniel are pouring over ballots cast in Tuesday's runoff election with incumbent Thad Cochran looking for iregularities While they claim to have found 800 tainted ballots so far, local election authorities say most of the descrepancies are the result of clerical errors.

Clarion Ledger:

A preliminary examination of ballots cast in Tuesday's Republican U.S. Senate primary runoff between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel has found irregularities in at least 800 ballots, tea party officials said.

Mississippi Tea Party Chairwoman Laura Van Overschelde said Thursday that the examination of ballots isn't complete and will continue until all ballots are examined.

"Looking at the poll books, we found some evidence we are concerned about," Overschelde said. "The investigation is still preliminary."

But Pete Perry, the Hinds County Republican Executive Committee chairman, said 200 votes were put in the wrong column and then corrected by poll workers at Fondren Presbyterian Church. There were also 75 to 80 similar votes corrected at Precinct 34.

"They know that there are errors that happened that day, and the poll workers corrected it," Perry said. "They are well aware of it. They are just trying to make up numbers to make it look a lot better than it is. ... I think they are trying to stir up and trying to make people believe there were irregularities when there weren't."

McDaniel supporters pored over Hinds County ballots cast in the runoff that saw Cochran squeak out a victory.

McDaniel hasn't conceded defeat, and his campaign team said it would be looking at alleged voting irregularities to determine whether to challenge the results.

McDaniel issued a statement Thursday calling on Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef to direct circuit clerks to cooperate with volunteers seeking election data.

"I'm calling on the Mississippi GOP Chairman Joe Nosef to instruct circuit clerks to hand over the poll books for the June 3 Democratic primary election and the June 24 Republican primary runoff election to our agents promptly upon request," McDaniel said. "Circuit clerks should be instructed to be as helpful as possible to our volunteers."

McDaniel concluded by saying, "We want to be clear: this is being done to maintain the integrity of the election process and that a fair and honest election was held on behalf of all Mississippians."

Reports of irregularities in polling places across Mississippi cast into doubt the results of the Republican primary runoff election, McDaniel said.

Are there 6700 tainted ballots that can be challenged by the McDaniel team and get the election results overturned? It's going to matter how the McDaniel supporters define "tainted." If they can find enough of the 35,000 voters who crossed over after voting for ta Democrat in the June 3 primary, they may have a legal case. But that would mean about 20% of those voters also cast a ballot on June 3. That seems to be a high bar to get over.

Apparently, there were some precincts that did not have voter lists from the June 3 Democratic primary so it was impossible to check them at the time. The McDaniel people will concentrate their efforts there, while looking for other iregularities in the voting.

As far as legal challenges, most of McDaniel's financial supporters have packed up and left, so it's unclear where he will get the money to fund a court challenge.




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