Judge Denies Request from GOP’s Mark Harris to Declare Him Winner of NC-09

Republican senatorial candidate Mark Harris speaks during a live televised debate at UNC-TV studios in Research Triangle Park, N.C., Monday, April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/ Pool)
AP Photo/ Pool

A North Carolina Superior Court judge denied a request from Republican Mark Harris on Tuesday to declare him the winner of the election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District.

The Raleigh News Observer reported:

Harris and his legal team had asked Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway to order the state to certify the results of the election despite the investigation, which could then send Harris to Congress. Following two hours of arguments from Harris’ lawyers Tuesday morning, as well as lawyers for the state and Harris’ 2018 Democratic opponent Dan McCready, Ridgeway said he would deny Harris’ request.

“This is an extremely unusual situation, with no board in place, and asking this court to step in and exert extraordinary power in declaring the winner of an election, when that is clearly the purview of another branch of government,” he said during the hearing.

Neither Harris nor McCready attended the hearing Tuesday. In a press conference afterward, McCready spokesman Aaron Simpson said that “the most important thing is that people get the answers they deserve” and he hopes the investigation is concluded soon.

Harris issued a statement shortly after the decision was announced:

Since this whole experience began with the State Board of Elections, we have been committed to seeing the process followed and concluded. The hearing today in NC Superior Court was a place to turn when we found no place to turn but for their authority to grant a writ of mandamus.

While we continue to maintain a 905 vote lead and the role of Congressman-Elect for the 9th district of NC, the decision of the court today has extended the process even longer. While we have cooperated fully with the state’s investigation of alleged ballot irregularities, no evidence has been supplied that suggests the outcome of the race is in question. Nevertheless, by the decision today, we will continue to cooperate with the investigation and hope for a speedy resolution.”

As a result of Wednesday’s decision, the convoluted process of determining the winner of the November 6 election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready in the state’s Ninth Congressional District continues.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (NCSBE), which was administratively dissolved on December 28, refused one month earlier on November 28 to certify the election of Harris to the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, even though the boards of election in the eight counties that comprise the district had certified he was the winner by 905 vot

The reason given by the NCSBE at the time was reported allegations of absentee election irregularities.

But that body failed to complete an investigation before a court ruled that it was not constitutional and it was disbanded on December 28.

The replacement agency, the new North Carolina State Board of Elections, will not be authorized to conduct business until January 31. When that new body is properly organized, it is expected to conduct an investigation to the alleged absentee ballot irregularities in the Ninth Congressional District Race.

After it completes the investigation, it may certify either Harris or McCready as the winner, or it may order a new primary and general election.

The ultimate authority in deciding who should be seated to represent the Ninth Congressional District in the 116th Congress is the Democratically controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

 

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