North Carolina’s 9th congressional district is currently undergoing an election fraud investigation surrounding the election of Republican Mark Harris. After Harris’ margin of victory fell into question, North Carolina judge Paul Ridgeway mandated that the results of the recent congressional election would go uncertified by the State Board of Elections until the allegations were cleared or confirmed.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Amar Majmundar represented the State Board of Elections last week in a superior court hearing in Wake County.
“There’s an investigation going on,” said Majmundar. “It’s an open question as to who rightly won this election. Yes, there is urgency, but the urgency is not by virtue of chronology, it’s by virtue of getting it right.”
Harris requested the hearing to validate his victory in the election, which he won unofficially by just over 900 votes.
After noting inconsistencies in the absentee ballot pool in November, the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement organized an investigation into voter fraud shortly after the election. The evidence found in the early stages of the investigation has allegedly been concealed from the public and the candidates, Mark Harris and opponent Dan McCready.
However, the board that initiated the investigation no longer exists; it was dissolved in December after a judge ruled that it had been unconstitutionally assembled by legislators of the North Carolina Republican Party.
Although the hearing was called for by Harris, neither he or McCready were present. The investigation remains in effect but its efficiency has been stunted by the gap between the removal of the former board and the implementation of a new board. The law that forms a new, five-member board will go into effect at the end of the month and Harris will have the opportunity to present his case to the district court shortly thereafter.
One of Harris’ attorneys, David Freeman, expressed that Harris is looking forward to presenting his case, but feels that suing the state board for their failure to comply with the mandatory timeline of certifying the election results is still his only option.
Alex Dale, another one of Harris’ attorneys, stated that they “are not in any way saying an investigation should not occur,” but that they felt their could not be a part of a process that has no end.” Dale noted that his client had petitioned the board to certify the congressional race results before he took legal action, but that they refused to call a meeting.
Dudley Witt, another of Harris’ attorneys, explained to Ridgeway that there was no tangible evidence supporting the investigation, and referred to it in the hearing as a “protest,” adding that they “don’t know the number of votes that would be an issue” and that “there’s no evidence…that there is any taint at all.”
“This is an extremely unusual situation with no board in place, and asking this court to step in and exert extraordinary power to declare the victor in an election that is clearly the purview of other branches of government,” Ridgeway said during the hearing. He also questioned if the presentation of Harris’ case was more suitable for the newly implemented board after Jan. 31. The hearing reaffirmed the fact that there is no law mandating that there must be a certification if the number of votes in question is not larger than that margin of victory.
State Board representative Majmundar told Ridgeway, “I think this [investigation] is confirming the will of the voters. We want to be sure we get this right. Once this election is certified, the board is without authority to conduct any remedial action, no re-canvassing, there can be no new election. Maybe that’s the point; let’s get this certification in between the two boards.”
McCready’s attorney, Marc Elias, backed this statement, endorsing the board’s ability to take its time to “get things right,” adding that “Dr. Harris’ lawyers have said a number of times in their initial petition and here today that they are frustrated they don’t have access to the underlying facts; they wish those facts were made public, they wish those facts were transparent. So do I. I wish they were public, and I wish they were transparent too.”
“I hope that we are one step closer to a conclusion,” said Aaron Simpson, McCready’s spokesman. “There can be no place for election fraud in our democracy.”