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 Connolly GOP, Dems locked in fight over North Carolina fraud probe NC voter: Someone collected my absentee ballot and never turned it in Over a thousand absentee ballots possibly destroyed in controversial North Carolina House race: report MORE, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Wednesday urged outgoing Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse GOP set to grill Comey GOP, Dems locked in fight over North Carolina fraud probe Dems cry foul in undecided N.C. race 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 TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill 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 HarrisTrump, Russians, absentee voter fraud: Maybe we did need an ‘election integrity’ commission NC GOP leader praises journalists for covering election fraud allegations Reporter says woman paid to collect ballots in North Carolina House race thought she was doing a good deed 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 HoyerInsurgent Dems amplify push for term limits on party leaders Overnight Energy — Sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board — Key Dem backs Green New Deal | Activists protest fossil fuel presentation at climate meeting | Judge won't allow 'preconstruction' work on Keystone XL More protesters storm Pelosi's office demanding climate change action 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 LofgrenDisputed North Carolina race raises prospect of congressional probe Dems cry foul in undecided N.C. race Hoyer: Dems won’t seat Harris until North Carolina fraud allegations are resolved 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 HarperDems cry foul in undecided N.C. race Mississippi New Members 2019 GOP lawmakers urge improvements to cyber vulnerabilities resource MORE (R-Miss.), who is also retiring in early January, did not respond to requests for comment.