House Dem Requests Election-Fraud Probe in Undecided N.C. Race

President Donald Trump greets Mark Harris in Charlotte, N.C., October 26, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters )

A Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is calling for a probe into suspected voter fraud in a disputed North Carolina congressional race.

Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia on Wednesday asked the Committee’s Republican chairman, Trey Gowdy, to hold an emergency hearing to address voting “irregularities” in the race to represent North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District.

Republican Mark Harris currently leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the race, but the state elections board has unanimously refused to certify the results, citing evidence of absentee-ballot fraud. The board and local officials are investigating allegations that an operative working for the Harris campaign, Leslie McCrae Dowless, supervised an effort to collect unsealed absentee ballots from voters, mark those ballots for Harris, seal them, sign as witnesses, and send them in, in violation of North Carolina law. Investigators are also looking into allegations that absentee ballots gathered by Dowless’s operation from Democratic-leaning areas were never turned in. A number of voters have signed affidavits asserting that their absentee ballots were collected by canvassers.

Harris won suspiciously large majorities of absentee ballots in seven out of the district’s eight counties, and two of the counties also had much lower than normal rates of return for absentee ballots.

“While the Republican majority is once again chasing conspiracies, real election fraud is playing out right before us in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District,” Connolly said in a statement. “We should see every action they take to ignore this situation for what it is — a slap in the face to all voters in North Carolina who participated in the 2018 election with the expectation that every vote would be counted.”

“The House has, as you know, the authority over the propriety of the election,” said soon-to-be House majority leader Steny Hoyer. “[Harris] has not been certified yet. They have refused to certify him. So at this point in time he is not eligible for being sworn into the House.”

The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has requested an evidentiary hearing by December 21 to address “claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities.”

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