By Izzy Hessler 2/22/2019
The North Carolina Board of Elections voted Thursday to hold a new election in the 9th Congressional District after a lengthy investigation into fraudulent activity involving absentee ballots in the midterm election.
The decision to hold a new election comes shortly after Mark Harris, the Republican candidate who was leading in the race according to unofficial results, requested a new election to be called. Since the November election, Harris been cooperating with the investigation into fraudulent activity committed by a political consultant hired by his campaign.
Harris initially requested that the board certified the midterm election results, which were in his favor by 905 votes. The board voted in December not to certify the results because the investigation showed that there was fraudulent activity from a member of his campaign.
“Through the testimony I’ve listened to over the past three days, I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said in Thursday’s hearing, adding, “It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.”
Harris’ son testified Wednesday, saying he warned his father through email about Leslie McRae Dowless, the political operative in question regarding the absentee ballots. He said that Dowless might have taken part in questionable ballot activity in the past. Harris claimed that he initially believed his son was overreacting, but that in hindsight, his suspicions were correct. He also said twice that Dowless assured him during a meeting in April 2017 that the illegal act of collecting ballots was not part of his program.
The new election has not yet been scheduled.