North Carolina race shines light on 'ballot harvesting'

North Carolina candidate paid $428k to consulting firm linked to alleged ballot tampering

"Today I withdraw my concession and call on Mark Harris to end his silence and tell us exactly what he knew, and when".

That's a shift for Woodhouse, who previously dismissed such calls as a Democratic attempt to steal the election from Harris.

A look at the numbers from the GOP primary in North Carolina show that Harris won by an extraordinary margin in the absentee-by-mail results, with an edge of 437-17 over Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC).

The North Carolina State Board of Elections signaled that it will hold a hearing on the allegations by December 21 and might decide if they will certify the election, call a new election, or take another course of action. The same day, the executive director of the North Carolina GOP, Dallas Woodhouse, announced that he would support a new election if an ongoing state investigation uncovered firm evidence of fraud.

On Monday, the Charlotte Observer reported that Leslie McCrae Dowless ― a man who worked as an "independent contractor" for Harris' campaign in Bladen County ― was possibly connected to suspicious discrepancies in absentee ballot totals that could have affected the Harris-McCready election.

Pelosi, who's nominated to become House speaker when Democrats take control in January, said Thursday that 'any member-elect can object to the seating and the swearing-in of another member elect.' She also noted the investigative power of the House to determine race winners. Investigators are looking into whether Dowless or people working with him handled actual ballots and why an unusually high percentage of absentee ballots weren't returned.

If the allegations are accurate, "this is the biggest absentee fraud in a generation or two in North Carolina", said Gerry Cohen, an election law expert and former longtime legislative staff attorney.

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Republican Mark Harris holds a narrow lead over Democrat Dan McCready.

The investigation by the N.C. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement is focused on claims that fraudulent absentee ballots were cast in the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready for the District 9 seat.

"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.

It is the latest wrinkle in an election mess that left the 9th District as the last undecided House race of 2018.

At issue is who can handle completed ballots. "This is about undermining the integrity of our elections, and what was done there was so remarkable and that those entities got away with it, even to the detriment of Republicans in the primary". They said neither election boards appointed by under governors from both parties, nor prosecutors, have adequately addressed recurring issues in Bladen. "Dowless' efforts were widely known, and we did share our concerns with several people", declining to elaborate on who he spoke to or what he said. As my colleague Eric Levitz describes, local and national news outlets continue to uncover evidence of electoral fraud committed by an operative hired by Harris's campaign.

'If there are not enough votes to overturn the election, then we probably need to go ahead and certify, ' said Sen. 'If we find the irregularities and the vote count being where it is, then (a new election) certainly is an option'.

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