The House clerk is officially taking over the vacant office of North Carolina’s 9th District.
A “vacant office notice” from House Clerk Cheryl L. Johnson released Thursday says her office will provide constituent services and operate the congressional office until an upcoming special election decides a new member.
The seat has been vacant since Jan. 3. Republican Mark Harris led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes after last November’s election, but allegations of absentee ballot tampering by a Harris consultant led the State Board of Elections to throw out that result.
Harris picked the office in the new member office lottery last November, before the revelation of the absentee ballot scandal put the outcome in doubt.
Friday is the filing deadline for candidates in the May 14 special election primaries. Harris has opted not to run, but five Republicans have entered the race so far. As of Thursday afternoon, McCready is the only Democrat running.
If no one receives 30 percent of the vote, a primary runoff will take place Sept. 10 with the general election to follow on Nov. 5. But if a primary runoff isn’t necessary, the general election will be held Sept. 10.
Under House rules, the office of the clerk “shall supervise the staff and manage the office of a Member … in the event that a vacancy is declared by the House in any congressional district.” The clerk is authorized to terminate employees and, with the approval of the House Administration Committee, may appoint staff as required to operate the office until a successor is elected.
Constituents are entitled to services even though their representation in Congress has lapsed. Someone is supposed to answer when they can call to ask for help or to voice their views on policy.
Roll Call called the 9th District office twice Thursday afternoon at the number listed on the clerk’s website but couldn’t get an answer. Hopefully, North Carolinians will have better luck.
Bridget Bowman contributed to this report. Also watch: What is Ballot Harvesting? Explaining the mostly illegal practice