North Carolina Officials Had Prior Warnings Of Voting Issues, Report Says

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The state Republican Party's executive director told Griffin that he vomited after watching the news reports about potential election fraud in two key counties involving a paid GOP operative and illegal "ballot harvesting".

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the House "retains the right to decide who is seated".

It's "bigger than that one seat", she said, pointing to the overall "integrity of elections". Harris' chief political strategist had hired a Bladen County man who has become the focus of many allegations.

The midterms are not over in North Carolina's 9th district.

Entertaining the idea of a new election represents a significant change from last Thursday, when state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes issued a statement saying: 'Democrats are throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at the wall to try and steal an election.' On Sunday, Hayes said there weren't enough questioned ballots to change the race's outcome, and the next day he accused a Democratic member of the state board of 'score-settling'.

She said "any member-elect can object to the seating and the swearing-in of another member elect".

The state elections board and prosecutors are focusing on a rural county in the 9th Congressional District, where unofficial results show the Republican with a narrow lead over the Democrat.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, the incoming majority leader, told reporters this week that Democrats could refuse to seat Harris. He was active in Bladen County in the eastern part of the district. As I noted yesterday, the Constitution and the Federal Contested Elections Act of 1969 gives the House a range of options in dealing with such a challenge, including ordering a new election or just flat-out certifying McCready as the victor and seating him instead of Harris. Bladen and Robeson County - where officials also have requested information - had the highest percentages of unreturned mail-in absentee ballots in the state, according to Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer.

On Friday, the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement called for an evidentiary hearing by December 21 to consider "claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities" during the campaign, particularly over absentee ballot collection. Since 2012, when Republicans consolidated control over the legislature and governor's mansion, "what we've seen is some of the most comprehensive voting restrictions in the country", said Tomas Lopez, head of Democracy North Carolina, a voter-access organization.

Republican officials did little to scrutinize the results, instead turning their attention to Harris' general-election campaign against a well-funded Democratic opponent, the people said.

There is no evidence that the irregularities in absentee ballot returns changed the outcome of the race. According to the Observer, Dowless paid people - sometimes high on opioids - in cash to collect and divert absentee ballots, an illegal action under North Carolina election laws.

There are also claims that incomplete ballots were collected and then filled out later, Cohen said. And The New Yorker reported that Dowless, who was also convicted of insurance fraud in 1992, has been implicated in electoral fraud since 2017, when the owner of a video-sweepstakes operation admitted in a sworn affidavit to helping fund Dowless's ballot-harvesting efforts on behalf of a Republican candidate for sheriff in 2014. Initial counts showed Moody to be the victor by 138 votes.

"If somebody said something about the absentee ballots, it is just very possible that it didn't register with us", Woodhouse told the Post.

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