Time for a check on the NC-9 House race, with the new Congress set to convene on Thursday, Republican Rep. Mark Harris's "win" over Democratic candidate Dan McCready has yet to be certified by the state Board of Elections due to the mountains of evidence of stolen and fraudulent absentee ballot votes in Bladen County, and at last count the board was going to convene in January to make some decisions.
But NC Republicans, eager to steal the seat, have dissolved the Board of Elections under a court order and are now looking to a new board to side with Harris and the GOP.
The North Carolina state elections board dissolved on Friday under a court order, two weeks before its much-anticipated hearing to consider evidence of possible absentee ballot fraud in the disputed November election for the Ninth District’s seat in Congress.
The unwinding of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement is a consequence of a long-running battle over partisan power in North Carolina and separate from the election fraud investigation. Yet the dissolution heightened the possibility that the Ninth District seat would remain empty for weeks or even months, and it plunged the chaotic fight for the House seat into deeper turmoil.
Mark Harris, the Republican nominee in the district, appeared to defeat Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate, by 905 votes in last month’s general election. But state officials have been investigating whether a contractor for Mr. Harris engaged in illegal activity to compromise the election on the Republican’s behalf. According to witnesses and affidavits, the contractor, L. McCrae Dowless Jr., and people working for him collected absentee ballots in violation of state law.
The allegations of misconduct prompted the elections board to refuse to certify Mr. Harris as the winner. An ongoing state investigation has involved more than 100 interviews and at least 182,000 pages of records so far, officials said.
No one has been charged in connection with the allegations, including Mr. Dowless, who has a history of convictions for fraud and perjury and was previously scrutinized by the authorities for possible election tampering. Mr. Dowless, who has declined to comment, refused a request to meet with state investigators.
Those investigators were to present their findings at an elections board hearing on Jan. 11. After reviewing any evidence, the state board was expected to determine whether to order a new election under a North Carolina law that allows a new vote if “irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness.”
But plans for the January hearing, and the fate of the nine-member board, eventually ran headlong into a case that dealt with the constitutionality of the elections board’s design. On Thursday night, in a decision that stunned North Carolina Democrats and Republicans alike, a three-judge panel angrily rejected a bipartisan request to extend the life of the board temporarily.
The ruling left the board with less than 24 hours to exist, and plans for the Jan. 11 hearing uncertain. Some state officials said on Friday that the structure of legislation setting up the future elections board meant it could not begin operations until Jan. 31.
But Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said Friday that he intended to name an interim board until the new law took effect. Republicans said that they would challenge such a move.
So, this fight will continue. Meanwhile, Republicans will argue that Harris must be seated in the House. That however is not up to NC Republicans...that's up to Nancy Pelosi, and she has no plans to do so.
The fraud battle wages on, because if Republicans lose here, in a clear case of election fraud, then people will start asking questions about other elections too.