Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole is charging Republicans with not providing poll books in the June 24 GOP runoff so workers could determine who had voted in the June 3 Democratic primary.
Photo by R.L. Nave.
JACKSON The head of the Mississippi Democratic Party is charging that the state Republican Executive Committee failed to have Democratic poll books on hand during the June 24 Republican Party runoff to ensure that voters didn't illegally cross party lines to vote.
“It was our understanding from some of our folks who worked in the Hinds County elections that the Republican poll workers on the 24th didn’t have the Democratic books from the 3rd, so they didn’t have any way of knowing,” Cole told the Jackson Free Press Tuesday.
If the books weren't in the precincts, poll workers had no way of determining whether voters had originally voted in the Democratic Primary—the only registered Mississippi voters who are ineligible to vote in the runoff.
Sen. Chris McDaniel’s senatorial campaign is currently reviewing ballot boxes in counties around the state to ensure the validity of election results in the June 24 run-off against U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
Reached Tuesday evening, Hinds County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Pete Perry denied Cole's charge about the poll books, calling it "a damn lie." He charged that Claude McInnis "made up" the charge that the GOP did not provide the poll books. McInnis, the election coordinator of the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee, could not be reached for comment tonight. However, he told Breitbart News earlier that Perry asked him and other Hinds Democrats to skip "switching the books"—meaning to give the Democratic poll books to the Republicans for checking purposes.
McInnis also said he personally checked to make sure the books were being used. "I went out to a precinct to make sure the laws were being followed, and I got there at about 4 o'clock p.m.," McInnis told Breitbart. "They had not switched the books, under the influence of the young Republican and Democratic workers there. I demanded that they switch these books immediately. The Democratic poll manager there switched the books at 4 o'clock that evening.”
In response, Perry denied all of McInnis' allegations."
“I know that everything that Claude McInnis said in his interview with Breitbart was not just a lie, everything he said was a damn lie. He made that up. ... He (McInnis) wouldn’t know an honest election if he saw one,” he said. " … The election in Hinds County was running proper. It was fine. We had 500 poll workers around the county working in 118 precincts, and they were doing their job.”
“The numbers they have are bogus, and they just use them to try to raise money to help pay off campaign debts,” Perry added about the Democrats.
McDaniel campaign attorney Mitch Tyner said Tuesday that he will not be surprised to find 6,700 ineligible votes, due to party crossover in the run-ff, roughly the number Cochran claimed victory by in the runoff.
Cole said he thinks McDaniel’s challenge is warranted due to these irregularities, especially if there were enough ineligible votes cast to compromise the election result.
The Democratic chairman also said that, while he doesn’t have proof, he is aware of allegations that Republican operatives paid for votes for Cochran. He added that the operatives allegedly "were from the old school of people who traditionally had done some vote buying, but I don’t have any direct evidence."
Perry flat-out denied the allegation of vote-buying. “We weren’t paying people to buy votes. Absolutely not. That’s illegal,” he said tonight.
The Democratic Party head agreed with McDaniel attorney Tyner about the inconsistencies and opportunities of fraud that come with absentee ballots. “Absentee ballots are the biggest headache in the conduct of any election,” Cole said.
“If the steps aren’t followed exactly right, then the ballot has to be rejected, and again that’s handled by the Republican Executive Committee in these counties, and if they’re handling it poorly or sloppily or not in keeping with the law, then there’s the potential for 19,000 to 20,000 votes that weren’t properly handled,” Cole said.
Ultimately, cross-party votes can be attributed to the fear that Cochran’s campaign instilled in Democratic voters, he said.
“The vast majority of Democrats who voted in the Republican run-off will tell you they weren’t voting for Thad Cochran; they were voting to stop Chris McDaniel, because he frightened them,” Cole said.