Democrats continue their full-court legal press to reverse the election day results in the 9th Congressional District of North Carolina where all eight of the counties in the district have certified Republican Mark Harris’s 905 vote victory.
But the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, which is the only governing body with the legal authority to certify the election and confirm Harris’s seat in the House of Representatives when the 116th Congress convenes in Washington next month, remains steadfast in its unanimous refusal to certify the results of the November 6 election in the state’s 9th Congressional District.
Despite Harris’s call for the board to certify the election late Friday, the board voted seven to two to “hold an evidentiary hearing to address irregularities in the U.S. House District 9 race … on or before December 21”:
The vice chair of the bipartisan board made the motion, calling for officials to look at absentee by-mail ballots and potentially other matters in the district that stretches from Charlotte to Bladen County.
“To assure that the election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption and without irregularities that may have changed the result of an election,” Joshua Malcolm said.
How long this evidentiary hearing will take, what evidence it will consider, and how the results of the hearing could impact whether Harris’s election victory is certified remains unclear.
A range of outcomes could result.
The board could find insufficient evidence to throw out the election results; it may invalidate some ballots and recalculate the results, possibly certifying Democrat Dan McCready, who conceded and then unconceded; it could throw out the election results entirely, declaring a new special election between Harris and McCready; or it could certify no winner and leave the matter of who is seated up to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives when it convenes on January 3.
After Friday’s vote, Democrat McCready issued this statement:
I respect today’s decision by the bipartisan Board of Elections to delay certification of our election results until a full investigation is completed of all credible allegations of voter fraud and irregularities. The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy. Any effort to rob a person of that right should be met with the full force of justice. Today’s decision takes a strong step forward ensuring that the people of the ninth district have the answers they deserve and any bad actors are held accountable.
Not surprisingly, Harris had an entirely different take on the vote.
“Today, after meeting behind closed doors for almost three hours, the State Board of Elections not only refused to certify our election results, but again refused to provide any details to the public as to what exactly is being investigated,” Harris said in a statement released by his campaign on Friday, adding:
They also chose to move forward with a hearing on a locally-certified election result that is almost a month old, despite there being no statutorily-required formal protest in either my race or the local race. Make no mistake, I support any efforts to investigate allegations of irregularities and/or voter fraud, as long as it is fair and focuses on all political parties. But to date, there is absolutely no public evidence that there are enough ballots in question to affect the outcome of this race. Accordingly, the Board should act immediately to certify the race while continuing to conduct their investigation. Anything else is a disservice to the people of the Ninth District.
This afternoon, we have filed an intervening motion in state court to request an extension of the stay that would change the current State Board. They should be required to stay in existence and certify this election so as not to disenfranchise the voters of the Ninth District.
The Charlotte Observer reported on Monday that 62-year-old Leslie Dowling, a contractor who worked for Harris’s general campaign consultant, is “at the center of [the] voter fraud scandal”:
Dowless was paid by the Harris campaign as a contractor for the candidate’s top consultant, according to The Charlotte Observer.
“He was an independent contractor who worked on grassroots for the campaign, independent of the campaign … as he’s done for a number of campaigns over the years,” said Andy Yates, Harris’ top strategist and the founder of Red Dome Group.
In an affidavit given to the Democratic Party, Dwight Sheppard, a fire investigator in Bladen County, said he believes Dowless is in the thick of the controversy. Dowless has denied any wrongdoing to The Charlotte Observer. He could not be reached on Monday by phone or on Sunday at an address listed for him in voting records.
Sources in North Carolina expressed concern to Breitbart News that Harris and his legal team are not sufficiently gearing up to respond to the Democrat onslaught challenging the election results, placing his election day victory in jeopardy.