The tangled web of intrigue surrounding the last undecided 2018 race

New election likely for North Carolina House seat after fraud allegations

If you haven’t been following this story, Democrats gained 40 House seats on Nov. 6, and one House race is still up in the air. That’s in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, where Republican Mark Harris got 902 more votes than Dan McCready. The state elections board has refused to certify that election, and it appears increasingly likely this election will be re-run sometime early next year.

Here’s a summary of what has happened in the ongoing intrigues:

  • A consultant named Leslie Macrae Dowless who was employed by the Harris campaign apparently collected ballots from voters and either altered them or didn’t turn them in to sway the election in Harris’ favor. Dowless is an ex-convict with a history of committing fraud (read more about his criminal record here).
  • When this came to light, the state election board (which consists of 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and 1 Independent) voted 9-0 to not certify the election and conduct an investigation to find out what happened. The board’s deadline for acting on the investigative results is Dec. 21.
  • Dowless is suspected of also having helped Harris win the GOP primary last spring in which Harris, a Tea Party candidate, upset a 3-term Republican incumbent, but because that election was certified, it’s too late to do anything about it. This means if a new election is held, it will pick up where the Nov. 6 election left off, i.e. be a runoff between the same 2 candidates, Harris and McCready.
  • Dowless did it for money. He was paid for his “services,” and in addition, reportedly was promised a $40,000 bonus from the Harris campaign if their candidate won.
  • Regardless of what North Carolina’s state election board decides, the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives final say over its own membership; and Democrats, who will hold a House majority in January, have indicated they won’t seat Harris based on the Nov. 6 election, which essentially would leave the state elections board with a choice between ordering a new election or leaving the seat vacant.
  • Harris hasn’t said much about the imbroglio. He did say he’s open to re-running the election if fraud changed the outcome, but that’s not the legal standard that applies, so he’s hedging and gaming the issue. Under North Carolina law, the state elections board can order a new election without proof that the outcome would have been different merely on the basis that fraud “tainted the fairness” of the election.
  • Democrats want to know “what he knew and when he knew it,” which goaded Harris to deny on Friday that he had any knowledge of wrongdoing. If he did, and especially if he was in on it, then he could be (a) criminally charged, (b) maybe disqualified (I’m not sure about this), or (c) would have to run in the new election with the disadvantage of voters knowing he tried to steal the election.
  • The North Carolina GOP has been shifty about it. At first, they endorsed Harris’ argument that the election should be re-run if fraud changed the outcome. However, now that they seem to think a new election is inevitable, they’re trying to discredit and shift blame to election officials by alleging that early voting results were released before Election Day and that requires a new election, which sidesteps the fact that a new election is need because their side stole the first one by committing ballot fraud. Believe me, Republicans concede nothing even when they’re caught redhanded at cheating, and this gambit is slickly packaged damage control. In other words, caught stealing an election, they’re attacking the integrity of election officials and the election process itself for not preventing them from doing it. The fallacy of that, of course, is that they did get caught, and the system is preventing them from getting away with it.

Read CNN’s latest update here.

Photo: Leslie Macrae Dowless, convicted fraudster and alleged mastermind of an election theft that almost succeeded



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