Politico, Anna Palmer, 24 Jun 14
Flowood, Miss. – A “voter integrity” effort launched by conservative groups supporting Chris McDaniel in a Republican primary runoff against Sen. Thad Cochran is in full swing today, with activists suggesting they are prepared to take legal action if they spot anything unusual.
Poll monitors are stationed across the state here, an effort organized in response to Cochran’s attempts to woo voters who don’t typically participate in Republican primaries, including black voters and Democrats.
“This is a historic situation never have we seen one party try to buy off the other party’s voters for their own purposes,” said Laura Van Overschelde, the head of the Mississippi Tea Party.
Under state rules, a voter of any affiliation can cast a ballot in the runoff.
“In Mississippi party affiliation is a state of mind,” Cochran said Tuesday. “You don’t have to register with a party or anything like that, so that’s why it’s hard to measure, you know, how many Republicans or Democrats are going to come vote.”
The Mississippi Republican added that “everybody can participate.”
Van Overschelde is acting as a roving poll watcher. By late morning Tuesday she had already cried foul over poll managers and Democratic operatives in New Jerusalem not allowing people to see who had voted absentee, even though it is a public record. She had also heard complaints of robocalls by Democrats encouraging Mississippians to vote.
Early morning polling places were bustling with cars and trucks pulling in and parking lots full of cars as voters stopped in to cast a ballot in a race that has come down to a fight between the GOP establishment and the tea party wing of the party.
The poll monitoring efforts have also raised concerns of voter intimidation — particularly for black voters.
Christian Adams, a former Bush Justice official who has long tried to publicize illegal voter activity, said that the observer program is a replica of the one the Department of Justice uses.
“The observers are trained and take very detailed notes and do not interact with voters,” Adams said in an email. “I’m sorry to hear that some democrats have played the race card. I can assure you our interest in racial issues is zero.”