North Carolina's 9th Congressional District seat is still empty in the House after evidence that Mark Harris stole the election with an absentee ballot scheme, and with a new state Board of Elections now appointed, the two Republicans on the board say they will block any new election and insisted Harris must now be seated.
Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, appointed new members to the board of elections on Thursday, but Republican members could block a vote to hold a new election in the 9th District. The previous election board was dissolved after a court found that the Republican-controlled Legislature had unconstitutionally stripped Cooper of the power to appoint a majority of its members. Democrats now have a 3-2 majority on the new board, but it takes four votes to order a new election, giving the Republican members veto power.
Democrats have accused a consultant hired by the Harris campaign, McCrae Dowless of Bladen County, a rural area in southeastern North Carolina, of illegally tampering with absentee ballots that he collected from voters. Harris—who has acknowledged hiring Dowless—won 61 percent of Bladen County’s mail-in ballots, even though just 19 percent of those mail-in ballots came from registered Republican voters. Dowless stands accused of not submitting absentee ballots that may have been marked for McCready, while filling out some ballots for Harris without voters’ consent. In a razor-thin election, this may have changed the outcome of the race. Dowless, a convicted felon, has also drawn scrutiny for his handling of absentee ballots in previous elections dating back to 2010. North Carolina officials asked the Justice Department in January 2018 to investigate Dowless for absentee ballot fraud alleged to have occurred in 2016.
North Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse told the Raleigh News & Observer that the GOP members would resist calls for a new election. “Our team are confident that our nominees…will come to the only reasonable conclusion, that is (the) race should be certified because Dr. Harris won more legal votes and we believe no evidence can possibly show otherwise,” he said. Woodhouse had told CNN in December that his party would support a new election if the evidence of election fraud proved that Harris did not rightfully win the race. Despite hyping discredited claims of voter fraud for years, Republicans have said little about the election fraudthat allegedly occurred in North Carolina.
One of the new board members is a long-time GOP suppressor of black votes, the other less so, but both have their marching orders from Woodhouse. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Cooper could get the opportunity to hold a new election anyway and I hope they do.