Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) on Friday accused Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (R) of deliberately misleading circuit clerks to make it more difficult for his team to review election records as it moves toward challenging the outcome of a June 24 runoff election he lost to Sen. Thad Cochran.
McDaniel said his team has "found over 8,300 questionable ballots cast" and he intends to hold a press conference next Wednesday to discuss his next steps. The Republican called on Hosemann to "clarify" the policy of reviewing election results and claimed he muddled it on purpose.
“Under Mississippi state law, the candidate’s designee has the unfettered right to review unredacted poll books," McDaniel said in a statement. "Sadly, Mr. Hosemann’s attorney Kim Turner disseminated inaccurate information which apparently confused some of the Clerks with respect to the ability of candidates and designees to view election records.
McDaniel continued, "It appears the message Delbert Hosemann’s office sent to Circuit Clerks was intended to confuse the Clerks so as to prevent full and unfettered access and disclosure of the poll books to our volunteers."
In a statement, Hoseman suggested McDaniel's claims were without merit.
“As we have said repeatedly, and Chris knows well, this Agency has absolutely no statutory authority over locally elected Circuit Clerks. Further, we have no poll books in this Office. That said, we call on all citizens of Mississippi to obey the law," he said.
Cochran was certified by the Republican Party of Mississippi on Monday as the winner of the runoff by 7,667 votes. Cochran's campaign said the same day that after a ballot box review, the number of questioned votes was "drastically lower" than what the McDaniel campaign was alleging.
When asked via e-mail on Friday for a response to McDaniel's latest claims, Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell called them "beyond ridiculous."
McDaniel said he intends to talk about the evidence supporting his claims of voter fraud.
"We will hold a press conference in Jackson to discuss the evidence we have documented and our next steps," he said.