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North Carolina Won't Certify GOP Congressional Candidate as Winner

Rep.-elect Mark Harris at member room lottery

Democrat Dan McCready conceded the congressional race in North Carolina's 9th District on Nov. 9, but the state elections board today refused to certify victory for Republican Mark Harris.

The Associated Press also retracted its projection of a GOP win, with Harris leading McCready by 905 votes in the unofficial tally of nearly 283,000 ballots cast.

Harris, a Baptist pastor, defeated incumbent Rep. Rob Pittenger (R-N.C.) in the primary. The district borders South Carolina, extending east from Charlotte.

The state is investigating, though, potential voting irregularities including reports of people showing up at home to collect absentee ballots; North Carolina voters are alerted on voting materials that elections officials will never come to a home to pick up a ballot. Sworn affidavits say a local political player was “doing absentee” for Harris and was poised to receive a $40,000 bonus if the Republican won, local station WSOC reported.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted 7-2 today to hold a hearing by Dec. 21 "to assure the election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption."

The North Carolina Republican Party said Thursday night that they would go to court if the state board didn't certify a win for Harris today. "There are simply not enough absentee ballots in question to change the result," the party said. "Mark Harris was elected to Congress. Mark Harris is going to Congress. Democrats don't get a do-over based on unverified rumors that were not even put in an official election protest as required by law."

The North Carolina Democratic Party called the allegations "serious and disturbing."

"If true, the people’s right to freely and fairly cast their votes was thoughtfully and deliberately undermined, casting a shadow over this election," the party said. "These claims must be fully investigated by state and federal authorities, and a full public hearing conducted, before certification of the 9th Congressional District election."

McCready said that "we must do everything we can to protect the integrity of our ballots and sanctity of our elections because our democracy depends on it." Harris said he supports "any efforts to investigate allegations of irregularities and/or voter fraud, as long as it is fair and focuses on all political parties -- but to date, there is absolutely no public evidence that there are enough ballots in question to affect the outcome of this race." Harris also wants to be certified winner of the election "immediately."