North Carolina race shines light on 'ballot harvesting'


The North Carolina Republican Party said Thursday that it would be open to a new election in the state's ninth USA congressional district, where an absentee ballot probe is underway, if investigators can show "substantial likelihood" that the alleged fraud scheme changed the outcome of the race.

And on Thursday, state Republican chief Woodhouse said that if fraud is proved, he would be open to a new election.

He added that it's unclear whether the alleged harvesting of absentee ballots on behalf of Republican candidate Mark Harris, the apparent victor of the election, was significant enough to swing it in his favor.

The state's election board has declined to certify the results because of allegations of fraud and irregularities involving mail-in ballots. Despite no evidence that this is the case - election fraud in the United States is in fact rare - the GOP has put legislation into place in states across the country to make it harder to vote, arguing that it's necessary to protect the sanctity of elections.

"While this is a awful outcome for the more than 750,000 people who would be unrepresented in Congress, that is already likely because U.S. House Democratic leadership have already said they are unlikely to seat Mr. Harris", he said.

"The House still retains the right to decide who is seated", she said.

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Congress getting involved: Reuters reported that Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) called for an emergency hearing over the election fraud claims. Dowless, moreover, may have been running schemes like this for years, financed partially by contributions from the Bladen County Republican Party. McVicker did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday and his office said he was unavailable. In Bladen County, Dowless employees told local television station WSOC and BuzzFeed News that they collected absentee ballots from people and gave them to Dowless, which violates state law.

The board released documents on Wednesday that shed light on the extent of Dowless' efforts.

The people who witnessed multiple ballots are loosely connected to Leslie McCrae Dowless, the political operative who is being investigated for alleged election fraud.

However, he said that if the outcome would not have been changed, the Republican candidate should be certified the victor. But of the voters who turned in the absentee ballots, only 19 percent were registered Republicans.

Concerns about voter harvesting anxious state election officials so much that they sent a letter to every Bladen County address where a voter requested a mail-in ballot asking the voter to call them if someone else tried take the ballot or fill it out.

McCready rescinded his concession on Thursday.

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"I didn't serve overseas in the Marine Corps just to come back home and watch politicians and career criminals attack our democracy", he said.

GOP representative Mark Harris at a postelection press conference.

"I call on Mark Harris to tell us exactly what he knew and when he knew it", McCready said. On Saturday, Andy Penry resigned from the chairmanship after he came under fire for posts on social media, including criticism of President Donald Trump.

In 2016, Todd Johnson, a Republican who had hired Dowless as he opposed Rep. Robert Pittenger in a primary, won 221 of the 226 absentee ballots cast in the district - even as Johnson finished third in the primary.

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.

Woodhouse defended Harris, calling him a "good man" and said there's "no way he knew about this stuff and sanctioned it".

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