By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – The Mississippi Supreme Court declined Thursday to give a hearing to Chris McDaniel, who lost the June 24 Republican primary runoff to incumbent Thad Cochran.
McDaniel had requested a hearing before the full court after it ruled last week that his campaign could not have access to personal information, such as voters’ dates of birth, during an examination of data from the June 24 election.
Justices David Chandler, James Kitchens and Michael Randolph said they would have granted the hearing.
“Assuring the integrity of the electoral process is a matter of the highest priority and implicates the fundamental rights of all Mississippians,” they wrote in a dissent. “… These issues deserve the full and focused attention of this Court.”
Justices Jess Dickinson and Randy G. Pierce did not participate, meaning the four who chose not to hold a hearing were Chief Justice William Waller Jr., Ann Hannaford Lamar, Leslie King and Josiah Dennis Coleman.
McDaniel, who has been examining election data across the state after losing the June 24 runoff to Cochran by 7,667 votes out of the 392,197 cast statewide, had filed emergency orders against multiple county circuit clerks, claiming he should be given access to the personal information contained in the poll books. Plus, the campaign has argued that circuit clerks should not be allowed to charge his campaign to have the personal information redacted.
After the state’s highest court ruled against his request last week, he sought oral arguments before the entire body.
While McDaniel lost in state court, True the Vote, a Texas-based conservative group that says it is trying to stop voter fraud, is arguing many of the same issues in federal court. A hearing was held Thursday in federal court in Jackson.
McDaniel’s attorneys say the information in the poll books, such as a voter’s birthday, is needed for the planned legal challenge because multiple voters in a county might have the same name.
But Attorney General Jim Hood, who submitted a written argument before the Supreme Court claiming McDaniel should not have access to the personal information, said people with the same last name could be distinguished by the individual voter number each registered voter receives.
People affiliated with the McDaniel campaign have indicated for weeks that a challenge is likely. They allege a number of issues, ranging from people who voted in the June 3 Democratic primary ineligibly voting in the June 24 runoff, to voter fraud.