Volunteers working for tea party challenger Chris McDaniel in Mississippi say they have already found 20 percent of the invalid double-votes they need to cancel Sen. Thad Cochran’s business-funded runoff victory.
“We’re finished with Hinds County, and we’re up to 1,500” invalid votes, said Noel Fritsch, Daniel’s press aide.
That’s critical because McDaniel can force another runoff if he can find more invalid votes than Cochran’s roughly 7,000-vote margin-of-victory on June 24. Votes are invalidated if voters cast ballots in both the Democrats’ June 3 primary and the GOP’s run-off on June 24.
However, McDaniel can also force another election even if he can’t find 7,000 invalid ballots, said Fritsch.
“We don’t have to prove that we have 7,000 [invalid] votes…. all there needs to be is enough doubt about the election, and we’re confident about that,” he said.
That “cancel by doubt” strategy gives the McDaniel campaign an incentive to collect evidence about possible vote-buying and other potentially unethical behavior by Cochran’s campaign.
So far, there are many reports about shady outreach to Democratic voters supposedly undertaken by Cochran and his allies, particularly done by relatives of former Gov. Haley Barbour.
For example, The Daily Caller reported that Henry Barbour, the head of the Mississippi Conservatives PAC and the nephew of Haley Barbour, paid Democratic operative Mitzi Bickers “to make paid calls to potential Cochran supporters.” Those calls may have spurred many loyal Democrats to cast invalid votes.
In the search for improper votes, GOP officials who are affiliated with Cochran’s campaign are trying to block McDaniel’s search for invalidated votes that are recorded in the poll books, Fritsch said.
“They’re stalling in at least half of the counties across the state,” he said.
Some are “asking for large fees, and throwing up every roadblock you can imagine to stop us from seeing the poll books,” Fristch stated.
That resistance “tells us they don’t want us to see the poll books,” he added.
Roughly 84,000 voters cast ballots in the Democratic primary. To find 7,000 invalid votes, more than 8.5 percent of the 84,000 people who cast votes in the Democratic Primary would also have to have cast votes in the GOP runoff.
However, 19,000 absentee voters cast ballots in the GOP run-off, and many of those votes may be improper, say McDaniel’s allies.
“We haven’t gotten into them yet, but we’re confident that is where a lot of their effort was concentrated, and that’s where we’ll find a lot more ineligible votes,” Fritsch said.
The 1,500 invalid votes already detected were found in Hinds County, which is a heavily populated and predominately Democrat county. That’s because — in a state where partisan loyalties are particularly polarized by race — 69 percent of its large population is African American.
There are many other counties with mostly Democratic and African-American populations, but they’re much smaller than Hinds County.