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Election results in North Carolina’s 9th District remain uncertain in wake of voter fraud allegations
Image via Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
One midterm race has still not been called almost a month after Election Day, but the long delay may drag on for longer than anyone anticipated amid allegations of voter fraud in North Carolina’s 9th district.
The contest may require a do-over after the State Board of Elections refused to certify the result last week following explosive accusations of ballot tampering in Bladen County.
The state board is investigating the result after groups of people went around to “harvest” absentee ballots. Republican Mark Harris won 61 percent of the mail-in ballot vote in the Bladen despite Republicans in the county only requesting 19 percent of absentee ballots, raising suspicions of fraud.
Fraud claims up-end NC election
Harris won his contest against Democrat Dan McCready by about 900 votes, and McCready quickly conceded the race. But the North Carolina State Board of Elections refused to certify the result twice last week, citing “claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee mail ballots.” The board will hold a hearing later this month after gathering evidence.
Voter affidavits from Monday claim that groups of people went around to “harvest” mail-in ballots from voters, which is illegal. Absentee ballots must be mailed in by voters or a close relative or guardian.
At the center of the board’s investigation is a felon who has previous convictions of fraud and perjury and who worked as an “independent contractor” for Harris’ campaign, Leslie McCrae Dowless, Jr. Two absentee ballot witnesses, Ginger Eason and Cheryl Kinaw, said that they were paid by Dowless, who is Bladen County’s elected Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor, to collect unsealed ballots from voters and drop them off at Harris’ campaign office.
Kinaw said Dowless paid her $100 and that she didn’t know that what they were doing was illegal because Dowless “has been doing it for years.” But Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College, said, “There are too many pieces of smoking items coming out that we should be concerned where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
Harris won 420 absentee ballots in Bladen to McReady’s 258. Bladen had a higher percentage of unreturned absentee ballots, at 40 percent, than the average for the 9th district, which was 24 percent. According to the Charlotte Observer, the un-returned ballots were disproportionately associated with minority voters.
There are also concerns about multiple ballots being signed by a small group of witnesses, with some witnesses signing more than 40 ballots each. The state board could call for another election if they decide that the results have been tainted, and incoming Democratic House Majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has warned that the House will not seat Harris if questions about the results are not resolved.
“There is nothing at this scale and at this federal level to say that North Carolina has experienced this before,” political scientist Bitzer went on to say. “I think we are dangerously close to having that taint be so great that we have to question if this is a valid election.”
North Carolina Democrats have called the allegations “incredibly serious” and demanded a full investigation.
“These allegations are incredibly serious. And if true, they outline a calculated effort to illegally undermine our free elections and to sway the election in favor of a specific candidate,” said North Carolina Democratic Party chairman Wayne Goodwin. “North Carolina voters deserve to know the truth, and as more details come to light every day, it becomes increasingly clear that a full investigation must be completed before the election can be certified.”
Meanwhile, the Wake County District Attorney opened a criminal investigation into the alleged fraud in Bladen, on top of other alleged instances of fraud in the county stretching back to the 2016 general election. Dowless denies wrongdoing.
After ignoring voter fraud dogmatically, the Democrats have suddenly decided that voter fraud exists. But voter fraud has existed for a long time, and examples of Democratic voter fraud are easy to find. Time for them to start taking this seriously.
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