AP NEWS

Election officials find evidence of fraud in disputed North Carolina House race

February 18, 2019

North Carolina’s elections director said Monday she found evidence of fraud tainting the District 9 House race, the last undecided contest nearly three months after the 2018 midterms.

Election Director Kim Strach said her investigation found “a coordinated, unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme” connected to Republican candidate Mark Harris.

She said they also discovered that “efforts were made to obstruct this investigation and the testimony provided at this hearing.”

Ms. Strach detailed the findings at an evidentiary hearing before a new state Board of Elections, which will decide whether to certify the Nov. 6 results or call for a new election.

Mr. Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the unofficial count. The previous Board of Elections refused to certify the results because of an alleged scheme to “harvest” absentee ballots.

In North Carolina, it is illegal for anyone other than a voter or their close relative to mail in an absentee ballot.

But that is what was done in the 9th District, according to testimony given at the hearing.

Ms. Strach said the evidence showed that Red Dome, a consulting firm hired by the Harris campaign, contracted political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless to run the absentee ballots operation.

The newly appointed board consists of three Democrats and two Republicans who will decide whether to certify the race or order a new election. It will take three votes to certify the election and four to order a new election.

It is anyone’s guess what happens next if the board deadlocks on the two questions.

Mr. Harris wants the board to certify him within 10 days if it cannot resolve the issue in a vote. Mr. McCready prefers kicking it to the Democrat-run U.S. House, which has final say over seating members, to decide whether to call a new election.