Ballot fraud investigation muddies North Carolina election

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"The House still retains the right to decide who is seated", Mrs. Pelosi told reporters Thursday.

It's 'bigger than that one seat, ' she said, pointing to the overall 'integrity of elections'.

Republican Mark Harris still hopes that the 116th Congress will seat him as the fairly elected representative for North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District.

The state's GOP executive director, Dallas Woodhouse, said Thursday that the GOP would "fully support a new election" if evidence of significant election irregularities is found.

Pelosi said "any member-elect can object to the seating and the swearing-in of another member-elect".

The state elections board and prosecutors are focusing on a rural county in the 9th Congressional District, where unofficial results show the Republican with a narrow lead over the Democrat.

A very close North Carolina congressional race still hasn't been settled nearly a month after Election Day, amid an investigation into alleged absentee ballot fraud that has raised questions about the credibility of the tallied outcome.

They point to unusual outcomes in the mail-in ballot totals in previous elections that appeared to benefit Democrats or Republicans, depending on the race and the year.

Pelosi said such a decision would be preceded by a House Administration Committee investigation.

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"The board needs to have a public hearing and lay out what they have, and unless they meet the standard of a substantial likelihood, numerically, that the outcome of this race was changed or could have been changed, then they need to certify Mark Harris as the victor and prosecute the offenders", said Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state Republican Party. Though this wasn't by itself a cause for concern, Harris had earned 437 absentee mail-in votes to Pittenger's 17, he told the publication.

State law says a new election can be called if the board determines "eligible voters sufficient in number to change the outcome of the election were improperly prevented from voting" or if "irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness".

"This has shaken us to the core", he said. McCready trailed Harris by 905 votes in the race to replace the outgoing Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC).

Andy Yates, a general consultant on Harris' campaign, told The Washington Post that Harris "was aware" of his firm's "relationship with Mr. Dowless and believes like I do that Mr. Dowless operated within the bounds of the law". If accurate, those results would mean every unaffiliated absentee voter, as well as some Democrats, went for the Republican.

McCrory, the Republican governor at the time, made his voter-fraud claims later that year after losing to Cooper. Dowless worked as a contractor for Harris' chief strategist in the campaign, Harris campaign lawyer John Branch confirmed Tuesday.

Specifically there are allegations in Bladen County that absentee ballots were illegally stacked in favor of Harris.

There are also claims that incomplete ballots were collected and then filled out later, Cohen said. That panel can open its own probe with full investigative powers, including subpoenas, hearings and even deciding which votes should count.

"We are not ready to call for a new election, yet, until the NCSBE completes the investigation or produces enough evidence that the votes/ballots in question would have changed the result or a substantial likelihood thereof", N.C. Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes wrote in a statement.

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