McDaniel campaign drops suit
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 1:00 AM
An attorney for the Chris McDaniel campaign agreed last week to dismiss a suit in Neshoba County Circuit Court alleging that Circuit Clerk Patti Duncan Lee withheld voting records following the June 24 Republican run-off for U. S. Senate.
Though the hearing was set for 9 a.m., Lee told the courtroom audience 30 minutes later that Judge Marcus Gordon had an emergency hearing in nearby Scott County and would not be back until 11 a.m.
It was during the wait for Judge Gordon that County Attorney Wade White and McDaniel's attorney, Mitch Tyner, reached an agreement to dismiss the suit. McDaniel was not present for the hearing.
In the order of dismissal, the two parties agreed that Lee was "proper in her action" to not allow McDaniel's representatives to examine both the ballot boxes and poll books simultaneously.
Furthermore, the order said if the ballot box and poll book materials where intermingled without proper supervision, it could "adversely affect the integrity of the election materials."
It reaffirmed the Supreme Court's ruling on July 17 that poll books are a "matter of public record" and in the "proper form" can be inspected by anyone upon request.
McDaniel lost the run-off by more than 7,000 votes and is still threatening a challenge over what his campaign is calling widespread voter fraud.
Judge Gordon signed the order around noon after arriving at the courthouse in Philadelphia.
White said he was confident that the county would have prevailed had they gone forward because Lee, the poll workers and election commissioners "are professional and follow the law."
"I did my job and the order indicates that I did my job," Lee said. "I was prepared to go to a full-blown hearing, but I think the outcome would've been the same either way."
Lee said additional people representing McDaniel came to review the poll books later that afternoon.
Tyner and McDaniel's spokesman Noel Fritch would not return any calls or release any comments.
The McDaniel camp claimed that Lee denied two representatives access to poll books and other election materials due to "privacy concerns" and "public records disclosure requirements."
Lee said she gave the duo what they wanted, a ballot box examination which allowed them to review the contents in the boxes.
"A poll book review is different because poll books are not in the ballot boxes," the Circuit Clerk said. "They [the representatives] were welcome to do a poll book review, but they could not review it and the ballot boxes simultaneously."
Earlier in the month, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that circuit clerks must redact voters' birth dates before poll books are open for public inspection.
The Justices ruled that poll books are controlled by the state Public Records Act, which specifies that Social Security numbers, telephone numbers, dates of birth and age information must be removed before the public can examine certain documents.