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GOP House win in North Carolina comes under scrutiny

State election board investigating theft of absentee ballots; new election possible

The outcome of a House election nominally won by the GOP in North Carolina was thrown into doubt Friday when the state election board declined to certify a winner, and instead opened an investigation into whether an imposter posing as an election official went door-to-door collecting absentee ballots to keep them from being returned. Up to 1,700 ballots could be involved. The Republican candidate, Mark Harris, leads by 905 votes.

Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate has withdrawn his election night concession, and news organizations that called the race have moved it back into the undecided column.

The investigation focuses on two counties where 40% and 62% of the absentee ballots requested by voters weren’t returned. An unnamed individual who worked for a consulting firm employed by Harris’ campaign is under investigation .

In North Carolina, absentee ballots tend to favor Democratic candidates. One of those two counties was the only county in the state where Democrats did not win the mail-in vote. In the May primary, Harris defeated an incumbent Republican congressman in part by winning 96% of the mail-in vote from that county, a suspiciously high number.

The Democratic lawyers challenging Harris’ victory don’t have to prove that misconduct changed the outcome. The state board can order a new election if it finds that irregularities or improprieties “tainted the fairness” of the election. Read story here. Earlier this year, Republicans criticized the state elections board as “partisan” (read that story here).

Update: On Wednesday, Dec. 5, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) called for an emergency congressional investigation into voting fraud by a Republican operation and persons associated with him working for GOP candidate Mark Harris. Read this story here.

Photo: North Carolina state election board members in March 2018

 


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