The Republican defeated by Sen. Thad Cochran in Tuesday's GOP runoff election in Mississippi says he’s found 1,000 examples of people who voted despite being ineligible to do so.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel has refused to concede to Cochran, despite the incumbent's nearly 6,700-vote lead. He argues a number of irregularities in the vote suggest registered Democrats voted in the GOP primary and has suggested enough votes could be thrown out to make him the winner.
“We’re looking to the issue of whether or not people who participated in if June 3 Democrat Primary crossed over into the Republican Primary this Tuesday night. We’ve found more than 1,000 examples of that in one county alone. So, we’ve found widespread irregularities of ineligible voters,” he said Thursday on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
Even allies of McDaniel however, suggest his effort is unlikely to succeed.
The president of the Mississippi Tea Party told a local news outlet that the campaign and supporters only found about 800 irregular votes.
One county Republican chairman told The Hill Wednesday it’s likely McDaniel’s search will turn up some irregularities — but not enough to narrow that margin.
Hinds County GOP Chairman Pete Perry said, while his poll watchers made their best effort and did turn droves of ineligible voters away from the polls, he expected some slipped through the cracks.
“Did it happen? I’m sure it happened,” he said.
“Did it happen to any degree of enough numbers to raise any questions [about the outcome of the runoff]? Absolutely not. If they want to go look and see and spend the time and effort to find it out, I’m sure they’ll find it out for themselves.”
Cochran aggressively courted Democrats, particularly black voters, in the run-up to the election. There's nothing wrong with a Democrat voting in the GOP runoff, but voting in both the Democratic primary and the GOP runoff is barred by Mississippi law.
McDaniel also accused Cochran of running “the latter three weeks on food stamps.”
“[Voters] were pushed there by an overt action, an aggressive action on the part of Sen. Cochran’s campaign that was filled with race-baiting, lies, distortions,” he said.
“He literally ran the latter three weeks on food stamps. He ran on voter suppression and he ran on pork. Mississippi is a conservative state, and one would think that our party was a conservative party. This proves otherwise.”
The McDaniel campaign has put particular emphasis on counties with large black populations, such as Hinds County, where turnout increased by about 50 percent from the primary to the runoff, and Cochran expanded his portion of the vote from 66 percent to 72 percent.
Perry stood by the vote in his county, however, and said it “bothered” him for McDaniel to suggest he and his volunteers hadn’t conducted a good election.
“On behalf of the 500 poll workers we had working in Hinds County in the 118 precincts who signed the voters in … I find it ridiculous to say that they didn’t do a good and honest job,” he said. “As issues came up, I’m sure we dealt with them. But really it bothers me for them to make these unsubstantiated allegations.”