MERIDIAN — Challenge of Cochran win could still be days away
JACKSON (AP) — It could be days before Chris McDaniel challenges his loss to six-term Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi's June 24 Republican primary runoff, an attorney for McDaniel's campaign said Monday.
The attorney, Mitch Tyner, said representatives of the campaign were in most of the state's 82 counties on Monday to examine ballot boxes, including absentee ballots. He said they were looking for examples of people who might have violated state law by voting in the Democratic primary June 3 and the Republican runoff June 24.
Mississippi voters don't register by party, but state law bans people from voting in one party's primary and the other party's runoff in the same election cycle.
"When I vote, and there's an ineligible voter that also votes, he dilutes my vote, he dilutes your vote," Tyner said during a news conference at the Hinds County Courthouse.
Tyner said it could be days before he reviews what the McDaniel representatives have been finding during their examination of ballot boxes. After that information is available, state law says a first challenge of election results would be filed with the Mississippi Republican Party executive committee. Tyner said that 10 days after a challenge is filed with the party, a lawsuit could be filed in state circuit court to seek a new election.
McDaniel, a state senator from Ellisville, has said he intends to challenge his loss, based on his belief that there might have been thousands of crossover votes from the Democrat primary to the Republican runoff. McDaniel has not released documents to support his claim.
The Cochran campaign said Monday that it has representatives in every county to watch as McDaniel representatives examine ballot boxes.
"The county-by-county results reported thus far are revealing an extremely low number of crossover votes from the June 24th election," Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell said in a statement. "As the process moves forward, the conversation is shifting from wild, baseless accusations to hard facts. As we have said from the beginning, the runoff results are clear: The majority of Mississippians voted for Senator Thad Cochran."
Russell told The Associated Press the Cochran campaign had found one crossover vote out of more than 2,000 votes cast in Perry County; three crossovers out of more than 4,000 votes cast in Pontotoc County; five crossovers out of about 2,000 votes cast in Leake County; and seven crossovers out of more than 11,000 votes cast in Lauderdale County.
Unofficial results from the election showed Cochran received nearly 6,800 more votes than McDaniel, winning with 51 percent.
The state GOP faced a Monday deadline to file certified results from the runoff in which Thad Cochran defeated McDaniel. Party spokesman Bobby Morgan said results would be filed with the secretary of state's office on time. It was unclear whether the numbers would be publicly released Monday.
The Republican nominee will face two candidates in the Nov. 4 general election: Democratic former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers and the Reform Party's Shawn O'Hara, who has run unsuccessfully for several statewide offices over the past 23 years.