North Carolina legislators call for new primary and election in disputed district following suspicions of fraud
- The North Carolina legislature approved a bill that would trigger a new primary election in the state's 9th congressional district following fraud allegations.
- Republican Mark Harris appeared to have won the election against Democrat Dan McCready.
- The state's elections board refused to certify the victory after an operative hired by Harris' campaign was accused of tampering with absentee ballots.
- Republican leaders in the state have said they are open to a new election.
Following weeks of voter fraud allegations in the state's 9th congressional district, the North Carolina legislature approved a bill on Wednesday requiring new primary elections in case the state's elections board calls for a second vote in the disputed race.
According to the bill, the elections board would determine when the primary would be held, giving Republicans a chance to replace their candidate, Mark Harris. Harris appeared to have won the 9th district race against Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes.North Carolina's State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement refused last month to certify the election after reports that Leslie McCrae Dowless, an "independent contractor" for Harris' campaign, committed absentee ballot fraud by directing workers to directly collect mail-in ballots, which is against the law. The board can order the vote to be conducted for a second time.
The New York Times reported that Harris has denied any wrongdoing. And while Republican Party officials haven't publicly retracted their support for him, they have said they're open to a new election to clear the air.
In the case of a new Republican primary in the district, incumbent Robert M. Pittenger could challenge Harris once again. According to The Times, Harris beat Pittenger with the help of a "significant" number of absentee votes. Pittenger has not commented on the potential for a new primary.
The Times also reported that Republicans, in case of a new primary, are considering former Gov. Pat McCrory for the seat, since he lives in the district. McCrory, however, said he had no intention to run for the seat.
The legislation passed by the North Carolina statehouse is yet to be signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat. According to an NCInsider reporter, a spokesperson for Cooper didn't indicate whether he will sign the legislation.
On December 8, Harris revealed that his campaign owns $34,000 to Dowless, the operative who is accused of collecting and failing to submit absentee ballots.
From @NC_Governor spokesman @FordPorter1 on the elections/ethics board bill just received from the #ncga: "North Carolinians deserve honest and fair elections and the Governor is reviewing this legislation carefully." #ncpol #ncga- Colin Campbell (@RaleighReporter) December 12, 2018