NC GOP calls on board to certify House race unless it can prove fraud changed results

The North Carolina Republican Party called on the state board of elections to certify Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisBevin says he lost because liberals are 'good at harvesting votes' in urban areas The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate Why my American Indian tribe voted Republican in NC's special election MORE as the winner of the House race from the 9th District if the board can’t provide evidence that alleged voting irregularities changed the outcome of the contest.

The state Republicans’ 9th District 's executive committee on Sunday unanimously passed a resolution that also condemned the board for a “glaring lack of transparency” regarding its investigation into alleged absentee ballot fraud. 

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A copy of the resolution was sent to the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE).

Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes, but the state board voted not to certify the results of the race amid mounting allegations of electoral fraud involving absentee ballots in rural Bladen County and neighboring Robeson County.

The NCSBE said last week it would hold an evidentiary hearing on Jan. 11, postponing it from previous plans to hold one on or before Dec. 21. The hearing will be held more than a week after the new sessions of Congress convenes.

“The State Board of Elections should produce any evidence they have obtained that would provide proof the alleged voting irregularities would have changed the outcome of the race,” the resolution from the North Carolina Republicans said.

“Therefore it is further resolved: Dr. Mark Harris is Congressman-Elect for the Ninth Congressional District. If the State Board is unable to provide evidence the alleged voting irregularities would have changed the outcome of the race, they should immediately certify the results of the Ninth District Congressional contest,” they wrote.

The resolution reiterates the state Republican Party will support a new election if there’s “substantial likelihood” that the alleged fraud altered the race’s outcome or if reports that early votes were leaked prior to Election Day totals are proven true.

The GOP’s resolution is a signal that they’re standing behind Harris, who has said that he was “absolutely unaware” of any wrongdoing.

Democrats responded by attacking the GOP statement as "an attempt to steal" the election.

“Only days after stating that they’d support a new election, Republicans resorted back to attacking a bipartisan investigation into serious and clear allegations of fraud to benefit Mark Harris," Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, said in a statement.

"This is an attempt to steal an election after being caught red-handed. It’s shameful, harmful to our democracy and North Carolina voters, and undermines the integrity of our elections.”

In a Friday interview with local station WBTV, Harris said he decided to hire Leslie McCrae Dowless, the local political operative at the center of the investigation into alleged absentee ballot fraud.

Harris said he didn’t think Dowless was doing anything illegal and added he wouldn’t have kept him on the campaign if there was any suspicion that he was.

“No, I would not have,” Harris told WBTV. “Again, we kept emphasizing again and again that when he was describing the ballot to us. In fact when you get down to his description of the program, he was being vouched for by a number of other leaders down there.”

The mounting allegations of fraud have heightened calls for a new race on both sides of the aisle.

The state elections board currently has the authority to order a new general election between Harris, McCready and Libertarian candidate Jeff Scott.

But a new bill easily passed by the North Carolina General Assembly last week that would allow the board to also call a new primary. The bill is currently on Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) desk.

Any potential redo of the primary would come as investigators also look into alleged fraud in the state’s May primary when Harris narrowly defeated 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.). 

The U.S. House of Representatives has ultimate authority over congressional elections.

The House will have a new Democratic majority on Jan. 3, and Democratic House leaders have suggested they may not seat Harris, which could lead to a House-led probe or a call for a new election that would trigger a complete reset, including a new filing process, primary and general election.

-- Updated at 2:57 p.m.