Establishment Republicans and allies of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) have scoffed at state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s (R) claims of rampant voter fraud in the runoff election between the two for U.S. Senate. But, ahead of a press conference on Wednesday where McDaniel plans to discuss the evidence he’s found, Cochran’s campaign and the Mississippi Republican Party have also taken steps to prepare for some kind of lawsuit. Since the runoff, McDaniel and his supporters have been poring over poll books in search of proof that Cochran only won the runoff through Democratic votes. McDaniel’s lawyers claim that if the state senator can prove that Cochran’s margin of victory was only through votes that shouldn’t have been counted in a Republican primary, a new election is automatically triggered (legal experts are skeptical of this). McDaniel, according to Mississippi College School of Law Professor Matthew Steffey, needs the state Supreme Court to order a new election so a legal challenge seems to be the next step.
Here we go again. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is on stage once more. This time a case emanating from Shelby County, Alabama, serves as the vehicle for challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the act. This section requires any change in any aspect of voting procedures of a jurisdiction must be approved by the United States Justice Department before such a change can go into effect. The catch is that Section 5 applies only to certain states or parts of states with significant minority population and a history of racial discrimination. These include most states of the “old Confederate south” and certain counties in a few other states such as California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota. With each passing year the resentment of many in those states known as the Voting Rights Act States seems to increase. Being singled out and ridiculed for conditions they believe have sufficiently changed is wearing thin with many in the affected states. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said as much recently when he was quoted in USA Today as stating that in “over 50 years, we’ve gotten that behind us.” Barbour went on to make a case for equal treatment of all states when he said, “The same rules ought to apply to Massachusetts, Minnesota and Montana that apply to Mississippi.”