House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin cast doubt on deal this week for .5T spending bill Obama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda MORE (Calif.) said Thursday that Democrats are closely monitoring fraud allegations in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, but would call for a new election only if it’s impossible to determine the winner.
“The House Administration Committee will have full investigative authority to determine the winner of the election,” Pelosi said. “And … only if it’s impossible to determine who the winner is, would we take the extraordinary step of calling for a new election.”
The midterm results in North Carolina’s 9th District have been the cause of controversy, since a number of voters have emerged with sworn statements saying that their absentee ballots were hand-collected by canvassers, which is prohibited in the state.
Fueling suspicions of foul play, several people have come forward claiming they were paid by a GOP campaign operative — a convicted felon — to collect those ballots illegally.
The Republican candidate in the race, Mark HarrisMark HarrisNorth Carolina political operative pleads guilty to ballot fraud The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP makes infrastructure play; Senate passes Asian hate crimes bill Hillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution MORE, has a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready. But the state board of elections has refused to certify the results, citing election “irregularities.” The board is expected to meet before Dec. 21 to decide a path forward.
Pelosi on Thursday laid out several scenarios she’s anticipating from the state board members: They could certify the results as they stand; they could call for a new election within 75 days, pitting Harris against McCready once again; or they could “just throw the whole thing out and say we’re starting from scratch,” she said.
In any event, the House would have the final say over whether the named winner is ultimately seated in Congress. Article 1 of the Constitution explicitly empowers the House to judge election outcomes and determine who should join the chamber.
“The House still retains the right to decide who is seated,” Pelosi said Thursday.
Pelosi did not go as far as Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerGOP blocks debt limit hike, government funding Democrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol House Democrats set 'goal' to vote on infrastructure, social spending package next week MORE (D-Md.), the incoming House majority leader, who said Tuesday that Democrats would refuse to seat anyone from the 9th District until the fraud allegations are resolved.
But she emphasized that any member-elect has the power to object on the floor to the seating of another member-elect, suggesting that would be the case if Harris's victory is certified by the state without a resolution to the fraud allegations.
“Any member-elect can object to the seating and swearing in of another member-elect. And we’ll see how that goes,” Pelosi said. “As you know, it’s not just the Democrats who have a problem with how it went in North Carolina. The Republicans have a problem, too. Because it affected their primary election."
“This is bigger than that one seat,” she added. “This is about undermining the integrity of our elections.”