North Carolina GOP director open to new election in disputed House race

North Carolina GOP director open to new election in disputed House race

The board could ultimately order another election.

If the allegations are accurate, "this is the biggest absentee fraud in a generation or two in North Carolina", said Gerry Cohen, an election law expert and former longtime legislative staff attorney.

While the investigation continues, the elections board has declined to certify the 9th District race, in which Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes, according to unofficial results.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, the incoming majority leader, told reporters this week that Democrats could refuse to seat Harris.

"Any member-elect can object to the seating, the swearing in, of another member-elect and we will see how that goes", she said. "This is about undermining the integrity of our elections".

Led by the president, Republicans nationwide have long cast themselves as victims of voter fraud. The investigation that began with claims from 2016 has now spread to this year's primary and general elections, Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman said in an interview.

Voting restrictions became the central issue in Georgia's close gubernatorial race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, with Abrams accusing Kemp of abusing his office to cement his party's hold on power. Similar conflicts have erupted in Texas, home to what was the nation's strictest identification law until North Carolina passed its version in 2013.

It is the latest wrinkle in an election mess that left the 9th District as the last undecided House race of 2018.

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The current North Carolina scandal is rich on a number of levels. "Dowless' efforts were widely known, and we did share our concerns with several people", declining to elaborate on who he spoke to or what he said. The U.S. House could also rule on the election outcome.

McCrory, the Republican governor at the time, made his voter-fraud claims later that year after losing to Cooper.

But the board voted unanimously to delay the results of the 9th District, which comprises all or parts of eight counties in the south-central part of the state, and provided few details why. The party just championed a voter-ID referendum approved in November, and Republican state legislators are pushing to approve language implementing the referendum during a lame-duck session, before they lose their veto-proof majorities in January.

The pattern was first identified by Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College in Salisbury, NC. In 2016, Dowless worked for a Republican primary candidate running against Harris and the sitting Republican representative that Harris would later defeat, Robert Pittenger.

He is alleged in voter affidavits to have collected unfinished absentee ballots. Bladen also had a suspiciously high percentage of absentee ballots requested but not returned.

"I think there were a lot of frustrated feelings inside the room as we saw the results come in", he said.

The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party says he supports a new election if allegations of fraud in the 9th Congressional District race are proven true and it impacted the outcome of the race. Some were in open envelopes or only partially completed.

On Monday, the Charlotte Observer reported that Leslie McCrae Dowless ― a man who worked as an "independent contractor" for Harris' campaign in Bladen County ― was possibly connected to suspicious discrepancies in absentee ballot totals that could have affected the Harris-McCready election. The second witness on numerous absentee forms Boyd signed was Lisa Britt, who told BuzzFeed she worked for Dowless. He didn't return an email seeking comment. Harris said last week that his victory should be finalized while the board investigated.

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