NC elections board chairman resigns, says he wants election fraud probe to continue without distraction

NC elections board chairman resigns, says he wants election fraud probe to continue without distraction

North Carolina's state elections board chairman resigned Saturday, saying he did not want his political views to affect an ongoing investigation into potential election fraud.

Democrat Andy Penry's resignation comes as state officials probe potential fraud in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, where the results of last month's midterm elections have yet to be certified.

The Washington Post obtained a letter from Penry to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement where he explained that he was stepping away to allow the investigation to continue “free of attempts at distraction and obstruction so that the truth can be revealed.”

“The investigation of criminal conduct and absentee voting fraud in the 2018 Republican primary and 2018 general election in congressional District 9 is a matter of vital importance to our democracy,” Penry said in the letter. “I will not allow myself to be used as an instrument of distraction in this investigation.”

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Penry has received criticism from Republican officials in the state saying that his Twitter posts, some of which are highly critical of President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE, are proof that the investigation in the 9th District is partisan.

Democrat Dan McCready conceded his House race to Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisSacramento police reviewing 12-year-old's arrest after video goes viral Trump tweets 'Total Endorsement' of NC GOP House candidate North Carolina state senator wins GOP primary in 9th District MORE in the district last month and said he would not request a recount after being down approximately 700 votes.

However, the elections board decided to not certify results of the election, citing “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities related to absentee by-mail voting.”

The body voted 7-2 on Friday to hold a hearing into the concerns.

Bladen County has been at the center of the investigation because of voter affidavits submitted to the board alleging instances of people coming to their homes and asking to hand in their absentee ballots while leaving some races blank.

Officials investigating the results are also looking into uncommonly high numbers of absentee ballots submitted in Bladen County.

The Associated Press retracted its call for the Republican in the race on Friday.