The “facts” depend on what side you’re on
My own opinion is that the stability of American society stems from a widespread belief that if we don’t like something, there are peaceful ways to effect change. Obviously not everything is fair and the playing field is not level, but folks think they have a chance. Some disagree and are all for storming the White House, at least they are when writing on the Internet, exemplified by such graphics as the one shown above.
These days birthers are among those who believe that elections are not fair, that there is massive voter fraud. Many birthers believe that Barack Obama didn’t really win his elections. Orly Taitz alleged a stunning number of fraudulent votes in her California Senate race in 2012, although she never identified anyone who voted illegally.
It is in the nature of the conspiracy theorist to suspect a conspiracy behind every unusual event, and we see that in a recent article from Orly Taitz about the Cochran/McDaniel runoff Senate race in Mississippi. Thad Cochran is the long-term incumbent US Senator from Mississippi who received 0.5% fewer votes than state Senator Chris McDaniel in the Republican Primary. (I wrote about this race briefly in my article, “Cloward and Piven were from Manchuria?”) In the runoff election, things were reversed with Cochran the winner by 6,693 votes out of almost 400,000 votes cast. The runoff election was marked by an unusually high voter turnout (20% more votes in the runoff than in the primary election). There is a detailed analysis of the election results in this paper, “Mississippi Primary Runoff Election, 2014: Republican Primary Election Runoff, Cochran (i) v. McDaniel” from the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development.
When one sees an unusual voter turnout, the normal explanation is that the race was interesting, or that there was a campaign to get out the vote. Orly Taitz sees it differently, writing June 27:
4700 fraudulent votes identified already in MS: By 10 AM they identified about 4700 duplicate votes. Looks like Cochran is gonna lose this election after all. And 5 years jail time for the people that commiteed (sic) election fraud. They will need to build a new jail.
What is Taitz’ source for this story? Commenter “Dee Dee.” Source aside, a little research explains the allegation, which is not unique to Taitz. In Mississippi, Democrats can vote in the Republican runoff election provided they didn’t vote in the Democratic primary. Tea Party activists claim to have found some number of people who voted in the Democratic Primary and the Republican runoff, which if proven might be grounds for challenging the election. The actual number of these illegal crossover voters varies widely in various reports but I haven’t found any source for the 4700 number (I think it is a state-wide extrapolation from Hinds County results.) McDaniel himself last Thursday put the number of illegal votes in the “hundreds.” According to Catherine Engelbrecht of the voting watchdog group True the Vote (who is helping McDaniel):
I think that the sanctity of the vote was, by all appearance, violated.
Hinds County GOP Chair Pete Perry says that most of the so-called duplicate voting was just an error on the part of poll workers checking the wrong column.
Perry pointed to one instance where a precinct that supposedly included 192 votes from people who had voted in the June 3 Democratic primary, but according to the certified election results, only 37 people had voted in the Democratic primary on June 3 for that precinct.
On the other side, McDaniel’s supporters were attacked, for example, in the New York Times article: “Scaring away black voters in Mississippi.” That didn’t seem to work out very well.
Each side has their own version the facts.
Articles on the Mississippi runoff:
- Chris McDaniel’s loss in Mississippi brings out the worst on the far right – Washington Post
- How Thad Cochran bounced back from disaster – Politico
- McDaniel says ‘hundreds’ of irregularities found in Mississippi race – CNN
Mississippi Primary Runoff Election, 2014: Republican Primary Election Runoff, Cochran (i) v. McDaniel” – John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development
Scaring away black voters in Mississippi – The New York Times
Thad Cochran’s victory shows voting rights well protected – Boston Globe