North Carolina Board of Elections Delays Congressional Race Hearing to January 11

Dan McCready and Mark Harris | North Carolina
AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File
MICHAEL PATRICK LEAHY

The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has delayed the evidentiary hearing into alleged election irregularities in the Ninth Congressional District race until January 11.

Late last month, the board refused to certify the results of that election despite the fact that the boards of election in all eight counties that comprise the district had certified Republican Mark Harris as the winner by a margin of 905 votes over Democrat Dan McCready. It subsequently scheduled an evidentiary hearing for December 21. That hearing has now been delayed until January 11, eight days after the 116th Congress is scheduled to convene in Washington, DC.

WCCB in Charlotte reported on Monday, “accusations of illegal absentee ballot collection on behalf of Mr. Harris and other absentee ballot irregularities have led to this point.”

“Candidates in the affected Contests shall have the opportunity to submit written briefs describing their positions on whether the State Board should either (a) certify their respective elections … or (b) order that new elections be held,” according to the Order of Proceedings released by the board on Monday.

Democrat McCready withdrew his concession statement this month after the board’s refusal to certify the election and press reports of absentee ballot irregularities in Bladen County that focused on the activities of Leslie Dowless — who for many years, worked with Democrat campaigns — hired by the general consultant of the Harris campaign.

In a press conference last week, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, Dallas Woodhouse, said, “if early voting numbers were leaked, a new election is appropriate,” after additional allegations were made this month.

But one local North Carolina non-profit contends that the current investigation into the election irregularities in this fall’s Ninth Congressional District race may be a case of selective outrage.

“Amid the more ironic findings of the current Bladen County investigation into absentee ballot harvesting comes the open admission by former State BOE Executive Director, Gary Bartlett, exposing the dirty little secret about prosecutions: Voter fraud isn’t a crime unless it gets prosecuted and District Attorneys are loath to go there,” Jay Delancy, executive director of the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina wrote at the organization’s website last week of the board’s investigation, adding:

We’ve documented on these pages the frustrations VIP has had in getting DAs to prosecute criminal referrals of interstate double voting. While we did get convictions on the cases of Roger Herres and Pasco Parker, we’ve also gotten a prosecution of the lawyered-up Steven Curtis “Chip” Thompson, of Moore County.

But an interesting pattern emerges in these referrals: All of them were registered as Republicans in at least one state. We’ve had numerous other cases referred to District Attorneys that were declined with no further comment. So many of them were listed as Democrats, that we wondered if local politics was skewing the prosecutors’ decision making.

Puzzled over this, we met with Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray. The “we” in this story included me (Jay), local citizen Bob Diamond and a retired Medicaid fraud investigator named Billy Creel. Billy had been a direct report to the NC AG for most of his career and I invited him along to kick me in the rear if I got out of line.

We walked away disgusted with Murray’s excuses for not prosecuting. In our meeting, he boasted of being “tough on vote fraud,” by his prosecuting or Charlotte’s former mayor for his poor choice to vote while a convicted felon. While that event gave Murray some “cred,” it’s not a crime too many people can relate to.

“Later Murray was nominated to the office of US Attorney, Western District of NC, and we tried our best to derail his coronation by pointing out the blind spot he has for prosecuting voter fraud … but we failed,” Delancy added.

It is unclear how long it will take after the January 11 evidentiary hearing for the board to make a decision and release it to the public.

In the event the board takes no action, it will be up to the Democratically controlled House of Representatives in the 116th Session of Congress to determine who will be seated to represent North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District.

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