House Democrat seeks emergency hearing on North Carolina election

Davis Turner  Getty Images North America

Davis Turner Getty Images North America

But among those who filed discredited complaints to support McCrory was Leslie McCrae Dowless, the man now at the center of a ballot-fraud scandal under investigation by state election and law enforcement officials. In other words, McCrory attributed fraud to the Democratic Party.

They point to unusual outcomes in the mail-in ballot totals in previous elections that appeared to benefit Democrats or Republicans, depending on the race and the year.

Then J. Michael Bitzer, a politics professor at Catawba College in Salisbury, published an analysis that found jarring anomalies, particularly in Bladen County, which has a large black population, and Robeson County, which has one of the largest Native-American populations on the East Coast. Harris, the Republican candidate, won more than 60 percent of the absentee vote. According to the state Elections Board website, Harris received 73,752 absentee votes, one-stop and mail-in, and McCready received a total of 81,084.

There is no evidence that the irregularities in absentee ballot returns changed the outcome of the race.

A state election board spokesman confirmed Thursday that subpoenas seeking documents had been sent to the Harris campaign, the firm serving as Harris' chief strategist and the campaign committee of the sitting Bladen sheriff. For almost the past decade, Dowless has been hired by state and local candidates to "get out the vote", and his past efforts have also been marked with absentee mail-in ballot irregularities. He has denied any wrongdoing to The Charlotte Observer.

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The state elections board has said it would hold a hearing by December 21. Harris said last week that his victory should be finalized while the board investigated.

At issue is who can handle completed ballots.

"If somebody said something about the absentee ballots, it is just very possible that it didn't register with us", Woodhouse told the Post.

Jamie Bowers, a spokesman for outgoing District 9 incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger, said he isn't sure if House leaders can chose a victor in the case of an uncertified race. Until then, the media hadn't focused too much on those possibilities, but that's precisely why ballot harvesting is illegal in North Carolina. But U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who will become House majority leader when the new Congress convenes in January, has said Democrats will refuse to seat Harris unless and until "substantial" questions about the integrity of the election are resolved.

In North Carolina, several state Senate Republicans whose districts overlap the 9th called for further scrutiny of voting irregularities going back to 2010 and urged Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to create a bipartisan task force - separate from the state elections board - to investigate irregularities beyond this year's election. Initial counts showed Moody to be the victor by 138 votes.

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