Mississippi Republicans challenge election shenanigans

December 14th, 2008 by Perry

The Mississippi Republican Party made waves last week when it amended a lawsuit against the Leflore County Election Commission and the precinct manager of Leflore’s Southeast Greenwood Precinct. The GOP alleges voters were instructed on how to vote and whom to vote for at the machines, that ballots were removed from the voting area, and that authorized poll watchers were denied proper observing distance. I write about it in last week’s Reasonably Right. Here are some excerpts:

Shortly before the election, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood in a memo reminded election officials: “Only voters who are: 1) blind, 2) physically disabled, or 3) cannot read or write are eligible to receive voter assistance and then, only after the voter has verbally requested such assistance.

Republican witnesses claim the voters in question were without apparent disability, walked without assistance as though they were not blind, and did not request assistance.

If the Republican poll watchers are right, then if the voters were illiterate, they were also telepathic.

The GOP claims the some voters never spoke at the voting machine to ask or direct the person assisting them on their choices. Instead, witnesses claim the “assistors” pointed at names and told voters to “vote for that one” and “vote for him.”

Republican poll watchers say voters were told to vote for Ronnie Musgrove for Senate because he is the Democrat (the special Senate election between Musgrove and Roger Wicker had no partisan identifiers on the ballot). They say at other times, these “assistors” simply instructed, “the first one, the first one, the first one” on the ballot that listed Democratic candidates first. The GOP claims ballots were even removed from the voting area.

A Secretary of State memo [you can read the memo linked at this post at Y'all Politics] obtained by Republicans through an open records request and shared with the press, suggests the identity of two of the “assistors” is tied to a local school board race.

Republican poll watchers claim they repeatedly reported these violations to the poll manager but they say she ignored or failed to act and became angry.

One Republican poll watcher said Gail Griggs, the poll manager named in the lawsuit, told him she thought these voters were all legally using their right to assistance.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue a writ of mandamus to bind the defendants and their successors to properly execute their responsibilities in future elections. Because the GOP’s original suit, filed the day of the election, was not acted on in time to affect the conduct of the election, the Republicans maintain this suit is necessary because the misdeeds are “capable of repetition, yet evading review” in future election without action.

You can read the full column at the Madison County Journal: PERRY/GOP challenges election shenanigans

The Republican Press Conference gathered a good deal of attention. You can view the whole press conference below.

Here is an additional interview with GOP Chairman Brad White from WAPT-16.

On the day of the election, the Greenwood Commonwealth sent a reporter to the Southeast Greenwood Precinct to investigate reports coming out of it. He spoke to the poll manager and witnesses say after he left, things got a little better. The Commonwealth wrote about the lawsuit and it has solicited some passionate local comments. The Clarion Ledger, the Associated Press, and the Jackson Free Press reported on it as well.

The blog Right of Mississippi asks what will the defense argue and sugests they should, “just agree to the suit without admitting their misdeeds. After all, who doesn’t want fair elections? That question will be answered by how the Leflore County Election Commission and the precinct manager’s lawyers respond. If they fight against this, they are fighting against fair and legal elections. They will be fighting for illegal activities at the polling place.

And you can watch the WLBT/WTOK report on the lawsuit here.

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