Among the questionable votes presented by Chris McDaniel’s lawyer? His own.

August 12

State Sen. Chris McDaniel speaks to supporters during the "Truth and Justice" tour stop at the Holiday Inn Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., Saturday, July, 19, 2014. McDaniel lost the Republican primary runoff to incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. McDaniel continues to protest the results, alleging "irregularities" that he's not proven, and he accuses Cochran of "selling out" the conservative movement. (AP Photo/The Clarion-Ledger, Greg Jenson)

Chris McDaniel's longer-then-long-shot hopes for overturning the results of the June 24 Republican Senate runoff election in Mississippi hinge upon a key argument: That thousands of voters in the runoff were Democrats who had voted in the Democratic primary. Under the common understanding of how Mississippi election law works, that would render the vote invalid. (Well, maybe. There's enough gray area here to cover the Mississippi State football field.)

In a press conference last month, McDaniel's lead attorney, Mitch Tyner, said that he "would be surprised if we don't find 6,700" such invalid votes -- more than the margin of victory at the time for McDaniel's opponent, Sen. Thad Cochran (R). On Aug. 4, Tyner reeled that back a bit, saying that the campaign had found 3,500 "illegal" votes and over 9,000 others that it claimed were questionable.

On Tuesday, it released a list of those questionable ballots in several counties, identified by volunteers largely by comparing notations made by poll workers indicating that the voter had cast a ballot in both the June 3 primary and the June 24 runoff.

Included on the list of questionable ballots in Madison County was an unexpected name: Mitch Tyner, McDaniel's attorney, and his wife, Sloane.


(According to the person tallying the questionable votes, Tyner had the word "voted" written in the margin of the voter rolls next to his name, and also voted on June 24 -- raising a question of whether or not he was one of the Democratic "cross-overs" the campaign was hunting for.)

As if to clarify that the Mitchell Tyner with the questionable ballot was indeed the attorney who was presenting the evidence of impropriety, the entire list bore this letterhead.


One of the main reasons that McDaniel's efforts to overturn the results of the election are so improbable is that, beyond recanted allegations of illegality, there's never been much solid evidence that anything improper took place on Cochran's behalf.

For a month, the McDaniel campaign promised that it had evidence of widespread problems of the sort that would cast the entire election into doubt. In fact, the campaign's argument to the state Republican Party focused on throwing out all of the votes in the county where Cochran did the best because of questions about the ballots there. This new document doesn't do much to bolster confidence in that claim.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He previously wrote for The Wire, the news blog of The Atlantic magazine. He has contributed to The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Daily, and the Huffington Post. Philip is based in New York City.
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