Dems cry foul in undecided N.C. race

House Democrats are ramping up pressure on Republicans to investigate allegations of voter fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, one of the last midterm races that’s still undecided.

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyCongressional scorecard finds federal agencies improving on IT GOP, Dems locked in fight over North Carolina fraud probe NC voter: Someone collected my absentee ballot and never turned it in MORE, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Wednesday urged outgoing Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyThe Year Ahead: Pressure mounts on election security as 2020 approaches House GOP set to grill Comey GOP, Dems locked in fight over North Carolina fraud probe MORE (R-S.C.) to hold an emergency hearing to probe voting “irregularities” identified by the local board of elections.

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With less than a month remaining in the 115th Congress, GOP leaders are not expected to comply with Connolly’s request. But the public entreaty shows that Democrats have no plans to let the issue fade into obscurity, not least because President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Memo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report MORE and Republicans have long warned that voter fraud poses a threat to the integrity of elections — while tapping that threat as a reason for states to pass tougher voting laws opposed by most Democrats.

That history hasn’t been overlooked by Connolly, who accused Republicans of dismissing the issue when confronted with allegations that such fraud may have benefitted a GOP candidate.

“While the Republican majority is once again chasing conspiracies, real election fraud is playing out right before us in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District,” Connolly said in a statement. “We should see every action they take to ignore this situation for what it is — a slap in the face to all voters in North Carolina who participated in the 2018 election with the expectation that every vote would be counted.”

Connolly called on Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor who’s retiring at the end of this Congress, to hold a hearing “so that we can shed light and understand what happened in this race.”

A GOP aide for the Oversight Committee suggested no hearings are forthcoming, noting the issue of federal elections falls under the jurisdiction of the House Administration Committee.

Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisDisputed North Carolina race exposes mail ballot flaws NC elections board postpones hearing over contested House race until January N.C. candidate directed hiring of aide despite warnings: report MORE enjoys a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready in the red-leaning 9th District. But a number of voters have emerged in recent weeks with sworn claims that their absentee ballots were collected by canvassers — a practice that’s prohibited in the state.

On top of that, several people have said they were paid by a GOP operative with a history of fraud to collect those absentee ballots illegally. And a sharp discrepancy in one county between the number of absentee requests and the absentee tally has fueled suspicions of foul play.

State officials have refused to certify the results while they conduct an investigation.

Yet state regulators will not have the final say. That’s because, while Congress delegates the administration of elections to the states, the Constitution gives the House the power to “be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members.”

Citing those powers, Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi gets her swagger on Term limit fight highlights growing pains for Pelosi’s majority DeGette dropped from chief deputy whip spot MORE (D-Md.), the incoming House majority leader, indicated Tuesday that Democrats would refuse to seat any lawmaker from the 9th District before the fraud allegations have been resolved — either by local officials or by Congress.

“The House … has the authority over the propriety of the election,” Hoyer said. “This is a very substantial question, [and] it ought to be resolved before we seat any member.”

Hoyer said he intends to speak with Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenHillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — Google CEO gets grilling before Congress | Pressure builds for election security bill | Trump to target China over IP theft | Experts warn cyber criminals growing more brazen Dem lawmaker asks Google CEO why Trump's photo shows up when she searches for 'idiot' Disputed North Carolina race raises prospect of congressional probe MORE (D-Calif.), the incoming chair of the House Administration Committee, about a path forward.

That panel, as defined by the rules of the Congress, has jurisdiction over “corrupt practices; contested elections … and Federal elections generally.”

“We’re not beholden to anything North Carolina does, at this point,” said a Democratic aide familiar with the process.

The office of the current House Administration chairman, Rep. Gregg HarperGregory (Gregg) Livingston HarperCongress sends bill overhauling sexual harassment policy to Trump's desk Dems cry foul in undecided N.C. race Mississippi New Members 2019 MORE (R-Miss.), who is also retiring in early January, did not respond to requests for comment.