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Possible election fraud in North Carolina congressional race

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Dan McReady/Mark Harris
Dan
McReady (L) faced Mark Harris (R) in the open race in North
Carolina’s 9th congressional district`

Screenshot via YouTube/Screenshot via
YouTube


  • North Carolina officials are delaying certification of
    the results of the race for North Carolina’s 9th congressional
    district while they investigate possible election
    fraud. 
  • In the November 6 election, Republican Mark Harris
    defeated Democrat Dan McCready by a margin of 905 votes after
    beating incumbent Rep. Rob Pittenger in the primary.
  • State election officials are investigating potential
    absentee ballot fraud as a possible cause for irregularities in
    the results from two countries in the district.

The 2018 midterm elections were held almost a month ago, but the
results of a closely-contested North Carolina Congressional race
are in doubt as the state elections board delays certification of the
results
while it reviews allegations of ballot tampering and
election fraud. 

In the Nov. 6 election, Republican Mark Harris defeated Democrat
Dan McCready by just 950 votes in the race for North Carolina’s
9th Congressional district, after beating incumbent Congressman
Rob Pittenger in the May primary.

But earlier this week, the North Carolina State Board of
Elections and Ethics Reform voted unanimously to delay
certification of the results due to the number of mail-in ballot
irregularities
reported in Bladen and Robeson Counties,
including unusually high rates of absentee ballots being requested by voters but not
returned.

 “We encourage all allegations of voter fraud to be
investigated and prosecuted, and perpetrators should go to
prison,” the North Carolina GOP said in a Thursday statement.
“However, Democrats are throwing everything, including the
kitchen sink, at the wall to try and steal an election.” 

The investigation and move to delay the certification was not,
however, spearheaded by Democrats. The Board of Elections is made
up of four Democrats, four Republicans, and one unaffiliated
member. 


See also: 


Here are the results of the 27
most competitive House races in the 2018 midterm
elections

“Today’s news reports of the serious allegations in Bladen County
are troubling,” the McReady campaign said Thursday.
“I stand with voters all across the 9th district in wanting to
make sure any wrongdoing is investigated and prosecuted
regardless of the outcome of the election.”

In at least six affidavits obtained
by WSOC-TV
, some witnesses described overhearing a local
political operative working on behalf of Harris — Leslie McRae
Dowless — saying he hired 80 people to do “absentee” for the
Harris campaign, and would receive a $40,000 cash bonus if Harris
won. 

Bladen and Robson County voters who submitted other sworn
affidavits said they received absentee
ballots they did not request
, and were canvassed at their
homes by operatives who told them to fill out only a few races on
absentee ballots, with the canvassers telling voters they would
fill out and send in the rest of the ballot. 

Bladen County not only had the highest rate of votes that came
from absentee ballots
at 22%, compared to no more than 1.6%
in any of the other counties in the district, but Harris won 96% of the absentee
ballots from Bladen
, compared to 62% of absentee ballots from
other counties. 

Under North Carolina law, “ballot harvesting,” or filling out and
submitting absentee ballots on behalf of others is illegal. On
Friday, the NCSBE decided by a 7-2 vote to hold an evidentiary
hearing into the allegations before December 21st during a
session closed to the public and to reporters. 

While the North Carolina Democratic Party applauded the Board’s
decision to conduct a hearing and delay certification, the North
Carolina GOP and Harris campaign slammed the lack of
transparency
in the board’s Friday proceedings. 


Mark Harris
Doubts
over the victory of Pastor Mark Harris could leave the 9th
district without a representative for weeks.

Chuck Burton/AP

While the Harris campaign said in a Thursday statement that they
are preparing for Harris to take office on Jan. 3rd, the fraud
investigation and possible litigation over the election results
could drag on for weeks, leaving control of the seat in
limbo.  

As WSOC-TV reporter Joe Bruno pointed out on Thursday, the State
Elections board doesn’t need to determine that
voter fraud influenced the outcome to order a new election
.
They only need to determine that “irregularities occurred
to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire
election and cast doubt on its fairness.”

Gerry Cohen, a North Carolina elections expert who served as
chief counsel to the North Carolina General Assembly, told
INSIDER on Friday that if the Board ordered a new election, it
would be re-match of just the general election contest
between Harris and McReady. 

The House Committee on Administration — which has the final
say in the results of contested House races — could also vacate
the results of the election and re-start the entire process,
which would include ordering new candidate filings, primaries,
and a general election, Cohen added. Eventually, the House could
end up seating McReady instead of Harris. 

Bladen County has been the subject of voting controversies
in previous years, though complaints against absentee ballot
results in 2016 were dismissed. “I’m very familiar with the
unfortunate activities that have happened in my part of the
state,” NCSBE member Joshua Malcolm said
Tuesday.

“And I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place
to the best of my understanding, which has been ongoing for a
number of years, and which has been repeatedly referred to the
United States attorney and the district attorneys to clean up,”
he added. 

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