JACKSON — Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says his office is correctly handling its part in Mississippi’s elections and he should be dismissed from a federal lawsuit filed by people seeking access to poll books from the June 24 Republican primary runoff for Senate.
Thirteen Mississippi residents and a Texas group, True the Vote, filed suit Tuesday over access to poll books from the Republican primary runoff between Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel. Cochran received about 6,800 more votes than McDaniel, but McDaniel said Thursday that he intends to challenge the loss.
Plaintiffs say they want to look for people marked as voting in the June 3 Democratic primary and the June 24 Republican runoff. State law prohibits such crossover voting, and McDaniel’s campaign said a challenge would be based on allegations that such voting occurred.
“In the event the secretary of state’s office is made aware of any person voting in both a Democratic primary and a Republican primary, those individuals’ names will be forwarded to the district attorney and attorney general for whatever prosecutorial action they deem appropriate,” Hosemann said in a news release Thursday.
The lawsuit seeks to force Hosemann and the state GOP to release poll books without redacting voters’ birthdates. However, Hosemann and the state GOP say they don’t possess the poll books. Primaries are conducted by local political parties, and poll books are kept at county courthouses.
Mississippi Republican Party chairman Joe Nosef said that the party has done nothing wrong and should be dismissed from the lawsuit.
McDaniel’s challenge of the election will be filed with the state Republican Party executive committee. After that, his campaign has said he might file a lawsuit in state circuit court.
McDaniel, a state senator from Ellisville, issued a news release Tsaying he intends to pay 15 rewards of $1,000 each to people who “provide evidence leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in voter fraud” in the runoff. He asked for $15 campaign donations to create the bounty.
“The most important issue here is maintaining the integrity of the electoral process here in Mississippi,” McDaniel said.
Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell scoffed at McDaniel’s plan.
“He doesn’t care about the integrity of the process,” Russell said of McDaniel. “He only cares about drawing attention to himself, staying in the spotlight and raising money.”