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North Carolina Republican owes money for disputed absentee ballot work

09 December 2018

But the results for North Carolina's 9th Congressional District have come under intense scrutiny after reports surfaced that a political operative working for Republicans destroyed more than 1,000 ballots in Bladen County.

Amid the developments, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the House "retains the right to decide who is seated" and could take the "extraordinary step" of calling for a new election if the victor isn't clear.

Whether it's one election or multiple elections, the cost is going to be as much as $50,000 or more for Robeson County, he said.

A political operative named McCrae Dowless has emerged as the focus of allegations that he led a network of people who collected absentee-by-mail ballots en masse, which is forbidden under North Carolina law.

North Carolina's board of elections is also investigating concerns about ballot collection, as well as unusually high interest in absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties.

"Clearly if what you reported is verified by the state board of elections ... there has to be a new election, and if ..."

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who will likely become the next Speaker of the House, said on Thursday that she will continue to watch the investigation.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, the incoming majority leader, told reporters this week that Democrats could refuse to seat Harris.

Allegations of flagrant absentee ballot fraud in a North Carolina district have thrown the Election Day results of one of the nation's last unresolved midterm congressional races into question. The same year, The New Yorker continued, Dowless was running to remain the incumbent vice-chairman of Bladen County's Soil and Water Conservation district board. But the state elections board has refused to certify the results as it investigates potential misconduct with absentee ballots, making it the last undecided House contest in the country.

If the District 9 race is not certified by the state board, the leaders of the U.S. House can select either Harris or McCready to fill the seat, Stone said. Harris won 61 percent of the absentee-by-mail vote in Bladen County, even though just 19 percent of the returned and accepted ballots came from Republicans.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections signaled that it will hold a hearing on the allegations by December 21 and might decide if they will certify the election, call a new election, or take another course of action. The president raised the specter of fraud again this year, suggesting without evidence that people had donned disguises to vote a few times in midterm elections.

"This has shaken us to the core", he said.

Unlike in Bladen County, Democrat Dan McCready won more of the absentee vote in Robeson County than Republican Mark Harris did. Dowless told the Charlotte Observer he has done nothing wrong.

McCrory, the Republican governor at the time, made his voter-fraud claims later that year after losing to Cooper. "[But] if voter fraud was committed by Republicans, then yes, that would be ironic", said Carter Wrenn, a Republican consultant based in North Carolina who is not affiliated with either campaign.

Several witnesses say Dowless paid them to collect ballots from voters, which is illegal under North Carolina law.

At issue is who can handle completed ballots. Dowless acknowledged he hired people in 2016 to urge voters to turn in absentee ballot request forms, which is legal.

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

North Carolina Republican owes money for disputed absentee ballot work