Voter intimidation reported at Canton precinct
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 1:53 PM
CANTON - Voter harassment, including intimidation of poll workers, reportedly occurred at Canton's Precinct 2 in the Republican run-off for U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
Signs at the Lake Caroline voting precinct on Tuesday.
An elderly man supporting Chris McDaniel demanded to know how poll workers would differentiate between traditional Democrats voting in the Republican run-off, multiple sources confirmed. McDaniel is challenging Sen. Thad Cochran.
The man, described as a poll watcher, was standing behind poll workers to make sure they were checking voter I.D. and cross-checking it with the list of folks who voted in the Democratic Primary on June 3.
At least one voter was questioned about who he was supporting.
GOP Executive Committee Chairman John Taylor was summoned by the poll manager.
"He was kind of pestering poll workers," Taylor said. "He was trying to find out how they were going to determine who would vote Republican in November. It was more of a nuisance, because they were busy."
The poll manager, Curtistine Anthony, said the man had also been seen speaking to at least one other voter about his party affiliation.
The man, whom Taylor described as "very well-behaved" by the time he arrived, has been identified by multiple sources as being a lawyer from the Florence area, but his identity could not be verified independently by the Journal.
Law enforcement was never called in to remove the man. He left about 11 a.m. but returned later in the afternoon.
Taylor told poll workers that if got out of hand again to call the police and have him thrown out of the precinct. Throughout the rest of the afternoon he sat at a table silent, just observing.
McDaniel supporters have raised the issue of traditional Democrats voting in the run-off since Cochran's campaign began making an appeal to traditional Democrats who could potentially increase the voter base.
Mississippians are not required to register by political party. But state law says if someone voted in the Democratic Primary, they are ineligible to "cross-over" and vote in the Republican run-off. However, if they did not vote on June 3, they are eligible to vote in the run-off.
McDaniel, a Republican state Senator from Ellisville, edged Cochran 49.5 to 49 percent in the June 3 vote.
Another issue raised Tuesday by poll watchers connected to the McDaniel campaign, according to poll workers, has been the lack of the posting of names of voters who voted absentee.
Taylor said poll workers have been instructed to check names of voters against a list of voters who voted Democrat three weeks ago in the initial party primaries, and that while the list of absentee voters weren't posted on the wall, poll workers had that list as well.
Taylor also reported an incident at at Highland Colony Baptist Church in Ridgeland, where one of two McDaniel poll watchers was asked to leave because they were only allowed one poll watcher.
"One didn't know the other one," Taylor said. "They were all stepping on each other's toes."
The NAACP told the Associated Press Monday that it planned to have its own poll watchers at several voting precincts on Tuesday to prevent voter intimidation, but Jackson NAACP chairman Wayne McDaniels said he had not received any reports of voter intimidation as of 2:30 p.m. this afternoon.
Turnout appeared to be up about 20 percent in Madison County overall and at other places around the state. Higher turnout was being reported in Oxford, Desoto County and on the Coast.