- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A conservative group filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday challenging the outcome of the bitter Mississippi GOP Senate primary, saying that investigators should take more time to determine whether election laws have been broken and whether illegal ballots were cast.

True The Vote, which bills itself as the nation’s leading voters’ rights and election integrity organization, said that it had no choice but to file a lawsuit after the Mississippi secretary of state and Mississippi GOP refused to respond to requests to review possible “double-voting” in the state’s primary, where Sen. Thad Cochran was declared the winner over tea party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

The group said the outcome could have been diluted by some of the votes cast and said it could be in violation of the Equal Protection Clause under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

“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,” said True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht. “This isn’t about personality, party, or politics. Senators come and go,” Ms. Engelbrecht said. “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.”

The McDaniel campaign has refused to concede the race, saying that they want to investigate the “irregularities” in the primary race, as it considers whether to pursue some sort of legal challenge.

They have criticized the Cochran campaign for relying on Democrats to win the runoff, which was held under the state’s open primary format in which even those voters not registered as Republicans could cast ballots.

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FreedomWorks for American, one of the tea party aligned groups that supported Mr. McDaniel, also on Tuesday called on federal officials, including the Department of Justice, to investigate whether election law had been broken in the race.

In a news release, the group said that an audio interview released by the conservative website RedState “revealed text messages and communications allegedly from the Thad Cochran campaign that, if true, catch the campaign breaking election law and buying votes in the GOP runoff election.”

Russ Walker, the national political director for FreedomWorks for America, said that federal officials “have a responsibility to look into these allegations and prosecute the guilty to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This is a federal crime and requires swift action by the Department of Justice and the FBI,” Mr. Walker said. “The faith the American people have in the electoral process is critical to the success of our representative democracy. These are serious allegations that, if true, undermine the integrity of our electoral process.”

The Associated Press reported that the Mississippi state Republican executive committee met Tuesday afternoon, but did not certify results of the June 24 runoff because an unknown number of affidavit ballots remain to be counted under the state’s new voter ID law. Any voter who lacked a proper form of government-issued photo identification at the polls last week was allowed to vote by affidavit, and he had five business days — until the end of Tuesday — to return to an election clerk’s office to show ID so the vote would count.



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