The state elections board in North Carolina has delayed ratifying Baptist minister Mark Harris’ victory over Democrat Dan McCready in the 9th District, citing “unfortunate activities” in one county.
Harris defeated McCready by less than 1,000 votes in the tally as it now stands.
McCready conceded to Harris three weeks ago, the day after the election.
But one of the nine state elections board members, Joshua Malcom, a Democrat from Robeson County, asked that the 9th-District race not be certified alongside North Carolina’s other 12 districts.
“I’m very familiar with unfortunate activities that have been happening down in my part of the state,” Malcolm, the board's vice chair, told his colleagues, multiple local outlets in North Carolina have reported. “I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place to the best of my understanding, which has been ongoing for a number of years, that has repeatedly been referred to the United States attorney and the district attorneys for them to take action and clean it up. And in my opinion those things have not taken place.”
The North Carolina GOP's executive director, Dallas Woodhouse, has said he believes the problems stem from Bladen County, the easternmost portion of the 9th District, WSOC-TV reported. Woodhouse expects those issues to be resolved in court.
After the 2016 elections, the elections board sent the Department of Justice a dossier of findings after it reviewed the election that year and Bladen County’s absentee ballots.
The state elections board has the authority to order a new election in the district if five of the nine board members determine that “irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness,” WSOC-TV reported.
The board will meet via teleconference Friday to decide how to move forward.
Woodhouse and the state GOP were furious over the delay, as Harris is set to be sworn in on Jan. 3.
“This will inevitably end up in court,” Woodhouse said. “The fact of the matter is Mark Harris won the race. He got more votes.”
Michael Blitzer, a political science professor at local Catawba College, told WSOC-TV that the elections board wouldn’t delay certifying the vote count in the 9th District unless it had a very good reason.
“We just don’t know what this is right now, but there is something substantial enough to warrant the state board to say, ‘We need to pause and investigate this,’” Bitzer told the TV station. “This is pretty significant.”
Harris is in Washington attending new member orientation and is in line to succeed Rep. Robert Pittenger after defeating him in a primary challenge earlier this year.
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