Mitch Tyner is the lead counsel for failed Mississippi Republican Senate primary candidate Chris McDaniel’s effort to have the results of the state’s runoff election overturned. In a brief press conference on Monday, Tyner responded to a question about the margin between McDaniel and incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran — which was at about 6,700 at last count — with assurance.
We don’t have to have 6,700 (ineligible voters). However, I would be surprised if we don’t find 6,700. It’s very easy to see the Mississippi law holds that if there’s the difference between the Cochran camp and our camp — that vote difference — if there’s that many ineligible voters, then there’s automatically a new election.
In an e-mail to the Post, McDaniel campaign spokesman Noel Fritsch said that the number of “irregularities” found on ballots was at 6,900 as of last Thursday — a number that “will certainly grow.” Most of those irregularities are of the kind that has become central to McDaniel’s case: people who apparently voted in the Democratic primary and then the Republican runoff. (More background here.) So done deal, right?
No. We spoke with Matt Steffey, professor of law at the Mississippi College School of Law, to see if he agreed with Tyner’s assessment of what will happen next and, in case we didn’t already give it away, he didn’t. “He uses the word automatically, and I think that’s a very optimistic and self-serving reading of the law,” Steffey told us by phone. “I don’t think the cases can be fairly interpreted to say that if they come up with 6,700 illegal votes and can demonstrate that they’re illegal — it’s an overstatement of the law to say that it automatically demands a recount.”