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Election irregularities crop up on eve of GOP runoff in Mississippi

By   /   June 24, 2014  /   No Comments

FREE AND FAIR? Mississippi faces a couple of serious issues that could effect Tuesday's runoff in the U.S. Senate primary.

FREE AND FAIR? Mississippi faces a couple of serious issues that could effect Tuesday’s runoff in the U.S. Senate primary.

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

According to a pair of advocacy organizations for free and fair elections, Tuesday’s U.S. Senate GOP runoff in Mississippi might not meet that ideal.

VoterID

FREE AND FAIR: A pair of advocacy organizations for free and fair elections have found some issues with Mississippi in the runup to today’s U.S. Senate runoff.

The American Civil Rights Union has sent warning letters to five Mississippi counties — Clarke, Humphreys, LeFlore, Madison and Noxubee — to purge their voter rolls of ineligible voters or face federal court action. The ACRU found, using state voter data and the most current U.S. Census numbers, that all five had more registered voters than voting-age eligible residents. This is a violation of both state and federal law.

The counties have 90 days to comply with the order.

Christian Adams, the ACRU attorney who is monitoring Tuesday’s election results, said the findings are a serious threat to free and fair elections in the state.

“When you’ve got more people than you’ve got people alive, there’s a problem with the rolls and they need to get them cleaned up,” Adams said. “Unfortunately, year after year, there’s a failure to keep the rolls maintained correctly. Federal law and frankly, Mississippi law, requires they purge their rolls. It’s not an option.”

That’s not the only election irregularity in the Magnolia State.

True the Vote has found several precincts with abnormally high Republican voter turnout compared with historic levels. The organization found Panola County, for example, was split nearly down the middle for incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (52 percent) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel (48 percent). One precinct, East Batesville 4, went 75 percent for Cochran and helped push him over the top in the county by 79 votes. That one precinct accounted for 84 percent of his margin of victory and had turnout 400 percent better than the average turnout for McDaniel.

“We are still very early in our analysis, but if these patterns are found to exist in other counties, what we could be looking at is a strategy of engineered voter turnout in targeted precincts on a scale sufficient to decide the election if the same patterns are repeated in Tuesday’s runoff,” said True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht in a statement.

The winner faces Democrat and former U.S. congressman Travis Childers in  November.

The ramifications are clear for Tuesday’s primary and both organizations will be watching. True the Vote said it will have representatives watching vote totals for any irregularities in Adams, Alcorn, Bolivar, Hinds, Lafayette and Warren counties Tuesday.

“You can’t have people participate in elections who aren’t alive, who aren’t eligible, in prison or aren’t citizens,” Adams said. “They’re not supposed to be part of the process. I’m sorry to report when you have dirty rolls, the chances for voter fraud go way up.”

Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@watchdog.org

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Steve Wilson is a writer and a journalist. He serves as the Mississippi Bureau Chief for Watchdog.org. Beginning his career as a sports writer, he has worked for the Mobile Press-Register (Ala.), the LaGrange Daily News (Ga.), Highlands Today (Fla.), McComb Enterprise-Journal (Miss.), the Biloxi Sun Herald (Miss.) and the Vicksburg Post (Miss.) His bachelors degree is in journalism with a minor in political science from the University of Alabama. He served four-plus years in the United States Coast Guard after his high school graduation and is a native of Mobile, Ala.

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