Court Deals Blow to McDaniel's Challenge of Mississippi Runoff

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 06:42 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Chris McDaniel's petition to get access to poll books from last month's GOP Senate runoff was rejected by the Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday, a blow to the tea party-backed state senator's effort to amass evidence of improper voting to challenge his loss to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.

McDaniel had demanded "access to and full examination of all the original election materials," including poll books, to see dates of birth and other identifying information so they can tell the difference between voters with similar names.

Certified results show Cochran won by 7,667 votes, but McDaniel has not conceded more than three weeks after the election.

Judge Josiah Coleman wrote in the court's opinion that the county circuit clerk didn't need to include poll books for a candidate review, explaining the material is subject to state law requiring Social Security numbers, telephone numbers, dates of birth and age information be redacted before a public examination.

"Filing lawsuits against circuit clerks who are clearly following the law are both a waste of time and taxpayer money," Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said in a statement, the Sun Herald reported.

"Voters have a right to have their personal information protected. It is time to address the real issues of this election and move on as a state."

The McDaniel campaign has claimed Cochran won the runoff with crossover votes from Democrats and African-American voters, and have been reviewing election records looking for "irregularities" indicating some of those crossovers illegally voted in two primaries.

The ruling may not be a knockout blow, Breitbart reported.

McDaniel’s lawyer Mitch Tyner believes the campaign has enough evidence for a challenge.

"We’re going to put it all together in a complete package," he said Wednesday, according to Breitbart. "I was really hoping we’d have it today. Monday, a week ago, I was sure we would. But I wasn’t sure we were going to run into this many problems. We’re going to get that together and at the same time we file a challenge, we’re going to give you a complete copy of it."

Cochran strategist Austin Barbour has said the incumbent's campaign is turning its attention to the general election. The Nov. 4 ballot will also include Democratic former Rep. Travis Childers and the Reform Party's Shawn O'Hara.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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