Documents Released Related To Possible Fraud In 9th District Race
CHARLOTTE, NC – The North Carolina State Board of elections released thousands of documents Tuesday related to it’s investigation into election fraud in the state’s 9th District race. Mark Harris’ victory over Dan McCready is possibly in question as the accusations of absentee ballot tampering gain momentum.
“This is not a typical case,” said Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at UNC Charlotte.
There have been accusations of absentee ballot collection fraud, and ballot irregularities in Bladen and Robeson counties.
“It’s certain there were irregularities,” said Heberlig, “It’s uncertain if there were enough irregularities to cause the election outcome to change.”
Some of the documents released on Tuesday show 482 absentee ballots in Bladen County and 1196 absentee ballots in Robeson county were requested, but never returned.
“I think the open question is were there ballots that were collected, but not submitted, and I think it’s easier to commit fraud that way than to actually change the vote of people who cast ballots and had them properly submitted,” explained Heberlig.
The state board must now determine if the handling of those ballots led to Harris’ 905 vote victory over McCready.
McCrae Dowless, who is being investigated by the Wake County District Attorney is at the center of the controversy. The known political operative was named in Affidavits, accused of paying people to go door to door to collect absentee ballots, which is illegal.
Another witness, observing the election process says they overheard Dowless say he would be paid 40 thousand dollars if Mark Harris won.
“At this time I can’t give any comment mam,” said Dowless when reached by phone on Tuesday.
State investigators will look at the signatures and hand writing on the submitted absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson county, many of which were collected by Dowless.
Heberlig says they’ll also conduct interviews with the people on rosters who requested a Ballot, but it was never returned.
“They can go to those people and ask them, did you fill out a ballot? did you put it in the mail? did you do anything with it? Did you expect your vote to be counted?” said Heberlig.
The state board of elections is calling for an evidentiary hearing by December 21st. Mark Harris is scheduled to be sworn in on January 3rd, but that is up in the air until the race is certified.
Maryland democratic representative Steny Hoyer said “If there is what appears to be a very substantial question on the integrity of the election,clearly we would oppose Mr. Marris’ being seated until that is resolved.”