North Carolina’s Democratic governor has accused state Republicans of working to derail the ongoing investigation into potential election fraud in the state’s 9th Congressional District, where the Republican candidate’s win is now in question.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Republican pastor and would-be representative-elect Mark Harris bested Democrat Dan McCreadyby 905 votes in the race for North Carolina’s 9th congressional district, according to unofficial tallies. Since election night, however, it’s been alleged that the GOP’s victory was tainted by the fraudulent harvesting and/or destruction of Democratic Party absentee ballots. The North Carolina Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement subsequently declined to validate the election night results.
Notably, several campaign employees hired by a contractor for the Harris campaign have admitted to illegally collecting absentee ballots from voters in violation of state law. The man at the center of the allegations, McCrae Dowless, has maintained his innocence while GOP officials have made pains to distance themselves from his vote-collecting operation. An investigation by election board commenced, but due to a recently-enacted change in state law, the board was forced by a court last week to dissolve prior to concluding their investigation.
Governor Roy Cooper decided to appoint an interim board under the old law, as the new election board will not take effect until January 21 — but Republicans were unwilling to go along with his plan.
This interim decision would have resulted in an elections board composed of three Democrats and two Republicans.
Cooper said he had wanted to name the board members from those who recently served on the freshly-dissolved board but Republicans resisted efforts and claimed any such action would be illegal. In turn, the state GOP declined to submit names of any nominees for Cooper’s proposed interim board.
The governor announced on Wednesday that he will no longer seek to appoint an interim board, thereby likely handing off the situation to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cooper also accused Republicans of working to undermine the integrity of North Carolina elections.
However, Law&Crime said Republicans insist they are simply looking to follow the law, with North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes releasing the following response:
The North Carolina Republican Party takes their obligations under the law and State Constitution seriously. Our unwillingness to participate in the creation of an unlawful ‘interim’ State Board of Elections results from a desire to ensure that any future investigation surrounding the Ninth Congressional District election is open, fair, and transparent, and not tainted by actions taken by an illegal board. The unlawful suggestion by the Governor only served to further erode public confidence in our election system. Governor Cooper earns no gold stars for being embarrassed into following the letter of the law.