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The Latest: NC governor may pick election panel without GOP

December 28, 2018
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FILE - Int his May 8, 2018 file photo, Ninth Congressional district Democratic candidate Dan McCready smiles outside Eastover Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C. The North Carolina board investigating allegations of ballot fraud in a still-unresolved congressional race between McCready and Republican Mark Harris could be disbanded Friday, Dec. 28 under a state court ruling in a protracted legal battle about how the panel operates. The state Elections Board has refused to certify the race between Harris and McCready while it investigates absentee ballot irregularities in the congressional district stretching from the Charlotte area through several counties to the east. Harris holds a slim lead in unofficial results, but election officials are looking into criminal allegations against an operative hired by the Harris campaign. (Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer via AP, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on an investigation into ballot fraud allegations in North Carolina (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

North Carolina’s governor plans to appoint a temporary elections board to complete investigations of potential ballot fraud in a still-undecided U.S. House race even if Republicans don’t participate.

The legal adviser to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday that if Republicans won’t nominate people for the interim state elections board, the governor is entitled to appoint people to the vacant slots.

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said earlier Friday that the GOP won’t help fill its two seats on the rebuilt five-member elections board.

The elections board was disbanded at noon Friday under orders from a state court that found its previous makeup unconstitutional.

The board has been investigating claims of ballot fraud by supporters of Republican Mark Harris, the unofficial leader in the 9th Congressional District race.

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5:15 p.m.

One of the leaders of the Democrats taking power in the U.S. House says they would reject seating a Republican candidate in an unresolved North Carolina race next week because of fraud concerns.

Incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer issued a statement Friday indicating that House Democrats wouldn’t allow Republican Mark Harris to take a seat in Congress next week because of an ongoing investigation into ballot fraud allegations.

Hoyer said that “given the now well-documented election fraud” in the district election, Democrats would “object to any attempt by Mr. Harris to be seated.”

Harris holds a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready, but the state elections board has refused to certify the race because of ballot irregularities.

The U.S. Constitution states that the House is the judge of the elections of its members and the final arbiter of contests.

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12:35 p.m.

North Carolina’s outgoing election board has turned down a last-minute request to certify a Republican’s victory in a still-undecided U.S. House race.

The state Board of Elections was disbanded at noon Friday under orders from a state court that found its makeup unconstitutional.

Just before the deadline for its dissolution, its chairman responded to a certification request from the campaign of Republican Mark Harris. The outgoing chairman Joshua Malcom wrote that the board was unable to convene the type of meeting Friday required under state law to proceed with certification.

Harris holds a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready in unofficial results. But the state board has refused to certify Harris as winner while it investigates allegations of absentee ballot fraud.

The state investigation could be delayed because a new law governing the composition of state elections board doesn’t take effect until the end of January.

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11:25 a.m.

The North Carolina GOP says no Republicans will serve on a temporary elections board sought by the Democratic governor to finish an investigation into a contested congressional race.

North Carolina GOP Chairman Robin Hayes issued a statement saying he believes Gov. Roy Cooper’s effort to appoint a temporary board is illegal.

Cooper is seeking to rebuild the board under state law dating back to 2015 because the current board is dissolving under a court order. He said he would appoint both Democrats and Republicans to comply with the law. A state court said this week that the existing board should dissolve by noon Friday after being ruled unconstitutional.

Cooper wants to fill the gap between old and new laws concerning the statewide board. A new law governing the board’s composition won’t take effect after the scheduled date for a January hearing into the still-unsettled 9th Congressional district race.

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11:10 a.m.

A Republican candidate with a slim lead in a contested North Carolina congressional race has issued a last-minute request for the state Elections Board to certify his win.

Mark Harris filed an emergency petition Friday with the state Board of Elections asking for certification before it’s dissolved under a court order at noon. The petition says voters have a right to congressional representation despite an ongoing investigation into ballot fraud allegations.

A three-judge panel ruled Thursday the current elections board should dissolve by noon Friday, previously ruling that its composition was unconstitutional. The court had allowed the elections board to remain in place temporarily because of the election investigation.

A new law with rules governing the formation of a new board won’t take effect until after the scheduled date of a Jan. 11 evidentiary hearing into the contested race. The governor is seeking to appoint a temporary board.

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10:50 a.m.

North Carolina’s governor is trying to move fast to reassemble the disbanding state elections board investigating ballot fraud allegations in a still-unresolved congressional race.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday asked the state Democratic and Republican parties to nominate by the end of the day the five members he’ll appoint. Cooper was forced into action after a three-judge state panel on Thursday refused to extend the life of the current nine-member elections board previously declared unconstitutional.

The elections board is investigating reports of potential ballot fraud in the 9th district congressional race and has scheduled a Jan. 11 evidentiary hearing.

Cooper says he plans to appoint five members of the current elections board to serve until the end of next month — beyond the investigation into the congressional race.

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7:30 a.m.

A court ruling threatens to disband the North Carolina board investigating allegations of ballot fraud in a still-unresolved congressional race.

The three-judge state court panel ruled Thursday to allow the state Board of Elections to dissolve Friday, ahead of a scheduled January evidentiary hearing into the 9th district congressional race.

The court previously found the board’s makeup unconstitutional in a protracted legal battle launched after the legislature altered the board in 2016. But the court had allowed the board to remain while it investigates the congressional race. The latest ruling came just after lawmakers enacted a new law to largely restore the board to how it operated before 2016.

It’s not clear how quickly the governor could appoint a board under the new law, or if a higher court could intervene.

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