Raleigh – Editorial boards across North Carolina are calling for a new election in the Ninth Congressional District. Despite Republicans’ desperate attempts to sell a tainted election and send Mark Harris to Congress before a full investigation is finished, North Carolinians aren’t buying it.
Winston-Salem Journal: Time for a New Election
January 14, 2019
The 116th U.S. Congress is well under way, but a bit short-handed, thanks to the vacant seat that represents North Carolina’s 9th House District. That’s because of election irregularities — and ensuing complications — that prevented our state’s elections board from certifying the results. The situation is so bad that the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to get involved.
Our inability to settle the matter ourselves is a bad look for North Carolina.
This is a nasty vine that needs to be rooted out.
It also shouldn’t be forgotten that Republicans have enthusiastically pushed their unsubstantiated myth of rampant voter fraud at the polls — though they were less enthusiastic when evidence of election fraud by absentee ballot surfaced.
All of these shenanigans weaken the public’s faith in our elections — which some operatives may find politically useful, but do our state a distinct disservice.
In light of the substantial allegations and the political maneuvering, the best idea put forth has been for the revived elections board — it’s expected to begin on Jan. 31 — to order a new election. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed their support — though Democrats are opposed to running a new primary, which would give Republicans an opportunity to nominate a candidate without Harris’ obvious baggage.
Either way, sometimes nothing works as well as a do-over. A new election, before the U.S. House takes matters into its hands, seems to be the best solution so far to this mishmash of corruption and confusion.
Fayetteville Observer: Our View: Time for Congress to Move On 9th District Probe
January 14, 2019
Two weeks into this new session of Congress and we’re no closer to knowing who will represent North Carolina’s 9th District in the House of Representatives. Nor do we know who will make the final call on how the seat will be filled or who will fill it. Will it be the state’s board of elections, which will come back to life at the end of this month? Will it be the U.S. House of Representatives, which has the constitutional authority to determine who will be seated? Or will it be the voters choosing in a new election, and possibly even a new primary?
Any of those outcomes could decide an election marred and perhaps hopelessly compromised by allegations of tampering and illegal handling of absentee ballots in Bladen County, and possibly in other counties as well. The ostensible winner, Republican Mark Harris, clings to the notion that he won a narrow victory and if there was tampering, it wasn’t extensive enough to overturn what initially was recorded as a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready. But Harris, and state Republican leaders, make that assertion without a complete probe of the election to prove their point. They want to seat Harris on the basis of wishful thinking and pure partisanship.
All of that is why we hope Congress will launch an independent probe of the election, using federal investigators. We’ve already learned that we can’t depend on local prosecutors to conduct an impartial and aggressive investigation, and the state’s efforts have been interrupted by the courts dissolving the previous elections board, which was found to be created unconstitutionally.
While the state still has a professional elections staff and its investigation is continuing, we need to have a unified investigation supervised by a single authority. Ultimately, it will be up to Congress to determine whether Mark Harris should be seated or if there should be a new election. That’s why we hope Congress will quickly take the reins and order a full federal probe. It’s clear that there were irregularities in both the primary and the November election. Let’s get it all documented and resolved, and get the 9th District a representative in Congress.
N&O: Hold a New Election in NC’s Tainted 9th District
December 5, 2018
In the week since the state Board of Elections declined to certify the results of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District election, journalists and others have begun to fill in the details of a troubling case of apparent ballot fraud. In Bladen County — and perhaps other counties — individuals have interfered with the voting process by gaining access to others’ absentee ballots, according to witnesses and records. Investigators also are looking into the burgeoning scandal.
But witnesses have said that their ballots, which were collected by individuals apparently working for ringleader McCrae Dowless, were never submitted to the county or state. There’s little certainty about how many ballots were wrongly tossed or destroyed in Bladen County (there were more than 1,500 that were requested but unreturned) or how much Dowless and his workers may have done the same in neighboring Robeson County, as reports suggest. It might have been enough to change the outcome of the race. It might not have been.
That possibility, however, triggers a statutory threshold for holding a new election. North Carolina General Statute 163A-1180 authorizes the Board of Elections to intervene and “take any other action necessary to assure that an election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption and without irregularities that may have changed the result of an election.” The board should call for a new NC-09 general election. The U.S. House can and should order a new primary, given that results show Harris winning a startling 96 percent of the Bladen absentee vote in his narrow 2018 primary victory over then incumbent Robert Pittenger.
Voters in the 9th District deserve the confidence that their election was free from fraud. North Carolina statute supports it. The evidence already demands it. The Board of Elections should start the election over.
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