Dec. 6 (UPI) — A Congressman called for an emergency hearing to examine election fraud allegations in North Carolina’s U.S. Ninth District House race, which has not yet been decided.
The North Carolina Board of Elections last week refused to certify the election, in which Republican Mark Harris appeared to beat Democrat Dan McCready by a razor-thin 906 votes, because of fraud allegations.
The controversy, which state officials are investigating, centers on Republican political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless.
He is accused of collecting absentee ballots in rural Bladen County with others he hired, marking those ballots for GOP candidates and turning them in, violating North Carolina law. Dowless was working for Harris and local Republicans at the time of the alleged offenses.
The elections board voted 7-2 against certifying the race after taking in three hours of testimony about the alleged fraud.
Virginia U.S. Rep. Gerry Connelly, a Democrat and member of the House’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the body needs to step in and investigate the allegations for itself.
“While the Republican majority is once again chasing conspiracies, real election fraud is playing out right before us in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District,” Connelly said in a statement Wednesday.
“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,” Connelly said. “Votes have been stolen by preying on senior and minority voters, and now a cloud of doubt and suspicion hangs over this election result.”
Connelly called on outgoing committee chair, U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to hold an emergency hearing before the current congressional session ends.
Harris’ campaign has denied any knowledge of the alleged illegal activity. The same county was investigated in 2016 for fraud allegations, CNN reported.
In addition to possible congressional oversight, state officials are determining whether to hold an unusual do-over election.
“Personally, it’s not a decision I want to take lightly,” Damon Circosta, a nonpartisan member of the North Carolina board of elections said. “I want to be cautious.”
The editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, called for just that Wednesday.
“Voters in the Ninth District deserve the confidence that their election was free from fraud,” the editorial said, urging the GOP to think about redoing its primary, as well. “North Carolina statute supports it. The evidence already demands it. The Board of Elections should start the election over.”
After initially criticizing the state probe, North Carolina GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse said Thursday his party supports the state investigation if it can clear up the allegations, NBC News reported.