by Matthew Boyle 1 Jul 2014, 1:32 PM PDT
Conservative election integrity organization True The Vote filed suit in federal court Tuesday against Mississippi’s Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and the Mississippi Republican Party, asking a judge for an immediate injunction against them so that the election material from the state’s June 24 GOP primary runoff can be inspected.
The lawsuit comes as allegations that Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) campaign and his allies engaged in voter fraud to win last Tuesday’s runoff against conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Cochran bested McDaniel by fewer than 7,000 votes but did so with an overwhelming turnout from liberal Democrats in the black community.
“All we are asking is that the MS State Republican Party follow the law; allow their designated county representatives to inspect the poll books and ballots, give them the review time they are permitted by law, and allow them to uphold their responsibility to MS voters,” True the Vote president Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement about the suit. “True the Vote has been inundated with reports from voters across Mississippi who are outraged to see the integrity of this election being undermined so that politicos can get back to business as usual. Enough is enough.”
True The Vote wants the federal judge to order the state party and Secretary of State’s office to allow independent verification of the election results to ensure there were no “illegal votes.” Such votes could come as fraudulently cast absentee ballots—the runoff saw a massive spike in absentees over the primary a few weeks earlier—or by Democrats who voted in the June 24 GOP primary runoff after having voted in the June 3 Democratic primary. Other potentially fraudulent votes could come from Democrats voting in the Republican primary who don’t intend to support the Republican they voted for on June 24 in November’s general election, though intent is difficult to prove. There are further allegations of vote-buying surfacing this week.
“This isn't about personality, party, or politics. Senators come and go,” Engelbrecht said in her statement. “What must withstand the test of time is the integrity of the process by which we elect our representatives and establish our government. No candidate or party should ever be allowed to twist election laws or subvert voters’ rights in the interest of political ambition.”
On June 25, the day after the runoff, True The Vote formally requested that state GOP chairman Joe Nosef delay certification of the election so an independent review could verify the election results. Nosef hasn’t done that and has moved forward with efforts to certify the election without having verified all the votes, so True The Vote gathered thirteen plaintiffs to file this lawsuit against Nosef’s party and the Secretary of State.
True The Vote’s suit has three major counts. First, the suit claims that Hosemann and the state GOP violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) by refusing to allow True The Vote access to records the law requires be publicly available. “Shortly before the Republican Primary Runoff Election, True the Vote, via its volunteer base, made a valid and timely request to review voter rolls and poll books under the NVRA, but it was denied access to those records,” a press release summing up that first count reads.
The lawsuit’s second count comes from the individual plaintiffs arguing that the NVRA’s requirements of transparency trump any state requirements to redact information. “Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the NVRA preempts any state requirement calling for public election information to be redacted at the cost of the requestor,” the True The Vote press release explains.
The third count, also from the individual plaintiffs, alleges that their equal protection was violated.
“Discovering potential instances of ‘double-voting’ between Democratic and Republican primaries are unlawful dilutions of individual votes,” the press release reads about that count.
Read the suit filed by True the Vote below:
True the Vote v. Mississippi Complaint by True The Vote
True the Vote v. Mississippi Complaint