New Election NC

By EMERY P. DALESIO, Associated Press Feb 21, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s elections board Thursday ordered a new election in the nation’s last undecided congressional race after the Republican candidate conceded that his apparent victory was tainted by evidence of ballot-tampering by political operatives working for him.

The State Board of Elections voted 5-0 in favor of a do-over in the 9th Congressional District but did not immediately set a date.

In making the motion to order a new election, election board chairman Bob Cordle cited “the corruption, the absolute mess with the absentee ballots.”

The vote came after the GOP candidate Mark Harris, in a surprising turn, dropped his bid to be declared the winner and instead said he believes a new election should be held.

He reversed course on the fourth day of an election board hearing at which investigators and witnesses detailed evidence of ballot fraud by operatives on his payroll.

“Through the testimony I’ve listened to over the past three days, I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said. “It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.”

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At the same time, Harris denied any knowledge of the illegal practices allegedly used by his operatives.

Harris left the hearing room without answering questions. It was not immediately clear whether he intends to run in a new election.

The decision Thursday could leave the seat empty for months. The elections board’s attorney plans to review the laws on scheduling new primaries and a new general election and propose dates to the elections board for its approval.

Harris led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes out of about 280,000 cast last fall in a mostly rural district that includes part of Charlotte and extends eastward through several counties along the southern edge of the state. But the state refused to certify the outcome as allegations surfaced that Harris political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless may have tampered with mail-in absentee ballots.

The congressional seat has been in Republican hands since 1963.

North Carolina Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse said he learned of Harris’ decision only minutes before. “There’s no way that anybody has contemplated what’s next,” he said.

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