NC GOP will call for new election if early votes were leaked

The North Carolina Republican Party on Tuesday said it will call for a new election in the 9th Congressional District if claims that state officials leaked early votes before Nov. 6 are proven true.

North Carolina GOP (NCGOP) Chair Robin Hayes made the call after the state Democratic Party released an affidavit from a precinct worker in Bladen County alleging that early votes were tallied prior to last month's election and shown to outsiders, which violates state law.

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Bladen County has been at the center of the North Carolina State Board of Election’s investigation into allegations of elections fraud and voting irregularities involving absentee ballots in the race between Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisDemocrat in contested North Carolina race raised .7M in second quarter Sacramento police reviewing 12-year-old's arrest after video goes viral Trump tweets 'Total Endorsement' of NC GOP House candidate MORE and Democrat Dan McCready.

"We can never tolerate the state putting its thumb on the scale. The people involved in this must be held accountable and should it be true, this fact alone would likely require a new election,” Hayes said in a Tuesday afternoon statement.

“Should this new election be warranted, the professionals at the State Board of Elections must assume control of the county board of elections operations in Bladen County, which has shown itself incapable of managing fair elections."

The state elections board has been investigating voting irregularities and potential absentee ballot tampering in Bladen and Robeson counties. Both rural counties saw an unusually high number of ballot requests, as well as a high number of unreturned ones.

Harris leads McCready by 905 votes in the race to replace Rep. Robert PittengerRobert Miller PittengerBottom Line North Carolina reporter says there could be 'new crop' of GOP candidates in 9th Congressional District race North Carolina board calls for new election in contested House race MORE (R-N.C.), but the state elections board voted to refuse certifying the results and will hold an evidentiary hearing about the fraud claims on or by Dec. 21.

Hayes’s statement comes as Republicans are becoming more open to a new election in North Carolina’s 9th District.

North Carolina GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse has previously floated the possibility of a new election if the elections board “can show a substantial likelihood” that absentee ballot fraud changed the outcome of the election.

 

At a Tuesday news c onference in Charlotte, Woodhouse repeated the calls for a new election if the latest claims on early votes leaking are true. He told reporters that the state party is fairly certain that the votes were shown to non-election officials, according to WSOC-TV.

But he wouldn’t comment on whether a new primary should occur if a new election is called by the state board.

Woodhouse also said Tuesday that the NCGOP continues to stand by Harris and believes that he didn't know about any wrongdoing.

“We believe it is against his character,” Woodhouse said, according to WSOC.

Harris released a video statement on Friday saying that he’d be open to a new election if evidence emerges that illegal activity could have changed the outcome of the race.

He’s been subpoenaed by the state elections board and said he’s cooperating with the probe. He also said he was “absolutely unaware of any wrongdoing” in the November election.

Meanwhile, Democrats have been calling calling on Harris to answer questions related to the alleged fraud and his ties to Leslie McCrae Dowless, an independent contractor on his campaign who's at the center of the state's investigation.

McCready recently withdrew his concession and called on Harris to “end his silence and tell us exactly what he knew, and when.”

Dowless has worked in Bladen County political circles for years and was convicted of perjury and fraud in the 1990s.

Several absentee ballot witnesses told WSOC-TV that Dowless paid them to collect absentee ballots and weren’t informed that the actions are illegal in North Carolina.

Records analyzed by CNN found that Dowless submitted more than half of absentee ballots in Bladen.

The state elections board has been investigating voting irregularities and potential absentee ballot tampering in Bladen and Robeson counties. Both rural counties saw an unusually high number of ballot requests as well as a high number of unreturned ones.

The board is slated to hold an evidentiary hearing by Dec. 21 after deciding not to certify the results from the election, though the time and place have yet to be scheduled. But the fate of the board remains in limbo since it was ruled unconstitutional.

The state elections board has the authority to call a new election, which would prompt only a rematch between Harris, McCready and Libertarian candidate Jeff Scott.

But according to local media reports, a new elections board bill being considered by the North Carolina General Assembly could instead trigger a new primary and general if the board called for a reset on the race.