By Daniel Brunty
The Choctaw Plaindealer
As the 2014 Run-off Primary Election for the U.S. Senate race concluded on June 24, incumbent Thad Cochran stood victorious over challenger Chris McDaniel.
The unofficial results from all 13 precincts in Choctaw County declared residents chose the long-time incumbent Cochran, who received 50.47 percent of the vote (645 votes), which was a jump from his 47 percent he received during the June 3 Primary Election. McDaniel received 49.53 percent of the vote (633 votes) during the run-off, a decrease from his 51 percent in the June 3 primary.
Overall, Cochran won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate for the seventh time by receiving 51 percent of the vote compared to McDaniel’s 49 percent. Cochran defeated McDaniel with a turnout jumping statewide from 319,000 voters in the June 3 primary to more than 360,000 for Tuesday’s runoff.
In Choctaw County, voter turnout for the run-off election was up at 1278 votes.
Cochran (R) will face Travis Childers (D) in the November general election.
Process of the Primary Runoff Election:
For the June 24, 2014 Primary Runoff Election, the Secretary of State’s Office dispatched a total of 28 observers statewide. A total of 654 calls came into the Secretary of State’s Office regarding some of the following issues:
- Crossover voting
- Voter ID
- Polling location/ precinct look-up
- Challenging voters
- Campaigning too close to the precinct
- Complaints regarding a voter being led to vote for one Party
- Reports of voting twice on the same day
Approximately 250 affidavit ballots were cast in the Primary Runoff Election by voters who did not present acceptable photo ID. These voters had until July 1, 2014 to present acceptable photo ID to the Circuit Clerk’s Office for their vote to be counted.
Certification of a Party Primary Runoff Election:
Party Primary elections are run by the respective parties, not the Secretary of State. County Primary Runoff election results are compiled by the Mississippi Democratic Party and the Mississippi Republican Party, respectively. Each individual party certifies the election results of their own Primary Runoff Election and provides the Secretary of State’s Office with the results and a list of the Party nominees for generating the General Election ballot. The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office does not certify the results of a Primary Election, nor can the Secretary of State’s Office accept or reject the election results or nominees submitted by each party. The Mississippi Democratic Party and the Mississippi Republican Party have ten (10) days (excluding the holiday) from the date of the election to submit certified results and a list of party candidate nominees to the Secretary of State’s Office (July 7, 2014). The Secretary of State’s Office accepts the certified results by the State Executive Committees on behalf of the State of Mississippi. (Miss. Code Ann. §23-15-599)
Examination of Pollbooks:
State law requires pollbooks be made available for public inspection. State law, not the Secretary of State’s Office, also requires, “social security numbers, telephone numbers, and the date of birth and age information in statewide, district, county and municipal voter registration files shall be exempt from and shall not be subject to inspection, examination, copying or reproduction…” (Miss. Code Ann. §23-15-165) The Secretary of State’s Office does not have the authority to disclose pollbooks to the public, nor does the Secretary of State’s Office possess any pollbook for inspection. The examination of pollbooks and any requests to examine pollbooks must be made on the county level to the local Circuit Clerk. Response by the Circuit Clerks, including the time of response, is made in accordance with the Mississippi Public Records Act. (Miss. Code Ann. §25-61-1 et al.)
Campaign representatives from both candidates in the Republican Senate Primary Election requested information regarding the examination of pollbooks. Both campaigns were provided exactly the same response and reference to State law.
The Secretary of State’s Office cannot currently quantify the number of crossover voting issues for the Primary Runoff election. Any information regarding crossover voting would need to be ascertained by individual County Election Officials.