Miss. Supreme Court rejects McDaniel request for runoff records

The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday rejected state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s suit seeking access to unredacted Harrison County poll books from the Senate Republican primary runoff there.

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But McDaniel’s lawyer Mitch Tyner said the campaign wasn’t satisfied with the ruling and is requesting the full state Supreme Court rehears their argument.

"Today's decision was not made by the entire Supreme Court, so our legal team will request that ​the entire Supreme Court panel rehear our petition for the original election records to be released to the McDaniel campaign," Tyner said in a statement. 

"Justices Randolph, Kitchens, and Chandler all requested that both parties appear personally before the Court to clear up any confusion on the issues at hand, so we will ask for that opportunity. In addition to asking for our case to be heard by the entire Court, we will also ask for the opportunity to present oral arguments. The integrity of every future statewide and district wide election hinges on this decision.”

McDaniel had argued he needed to see voters’ personal information — like birthdates, which are redacted from current records — to be able to distinguish between voters with similar names, and gauge whether they had voted in the Democratic Party primary as well as the GOP runoff.

That’s barred by Mississippi election law. McDaniel believes Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) runoff win was driven largely by such illegitimate crossover voters, and so should be thrown out.

McDaniel refused to concede to Cochran after the senator was declared the winner of the runoff, and he and his staff have spent the past three weeks combing through poll books gathering evidence to challenge the results of the election in court and try to force a special election.

But the state Supreme Court found that poll books are protected under the state Public Records Act, which declares certain personal information, including Social Security numbers, phone numbers, birthdays and age information, must be redacted before records are made public.

According to WLOX, McDaniel will have to reimburse Harrison County, where he filed the petition, for the cost of redacting voters’ birthdays from the poll books.

McDaniel seemed to take particular issue with this in his own statement.

"A candidate for office in Mississippi should not have to raise $100,000 to verify an election was carried out legally in every single one of Mississippi's eighty-two counties,” he said. 

“We are confident the full panel of Justices will do the right thing, and we remain undeterred in our efforts to gain access to the election records in the counties where we have not been granted access to records thus far."