CHARLOTTE, NC — As allegations and accusations of illegal voting activity continue to swirl in Bladen County, GOP candidate Mark Harris has broken his silence and said Friday he would be open to a new election to determine the winner of North Carolina’s 9th district Congressional seat if there was proof of illegal activity.
In what was one of the more dramatic races in North Carolina, Harris declared victory following the midterm election last month, with fewer than 1,000 votes separating him from his Democratic challenger Dan McCready. The North Carolina State Board of Elections, however, twice refused to certify the results after "claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee mail ballots," the board’s vice chair Joshua Malcolm said, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics, alongside the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations and the Wake County District Attorney’s Office, have all launched investigations into those alleged fraudulent activities that stem from the actions of a political worker for Republican candidate Mark Harris, who is accused of fraudulently obtaining and altering absentee ballots in Bladen County.
In a video message released on social media Friday, Harris defended himself and his campaign and said it was fully cooperating with the state board of elections’ investigation.
"I trust that this investigation will be full and complete, examining any alleged irregularities that could have benefitted either party in this election or past election cycles," Harris said. "Although I was absolutely unaware of any wrongdoing, that will not prevent me from cooperating with this investigation," he said.
"If this investigation finds proof of illegal activity on either side to such a level that it could have changed the outcome of the election, then I would wholeheartedly support a new election to ensure all voters have confidence in the results," Harris said.
Harris’ comments come one day after his opponent withdrew his concession.
"A month ago, I conceded to my opponent Mark Harris in the race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district. But last week, we began to learn about shameful criminal activity bankrolled by my opponent, take away people’s very right to vote," McCready said in a video message Thursday.
"Today I withdraw my concession and call on Mark Harris to end his silence and tell us exactly what he knew, and when," he said.
I didn’t serve overseas in the Marines to come home to NC and watch a criminal, bankrolled by my opponent, take away people’s very right to vote. Today I withdraw my concession and call on Mark Harris to end his silence and tell us exactly what he knew, and when. pic.twitter.com/2hcT00DVhQ— Dan McCready for NC (@McCreadyForNC) December 6, 2018
Thursday morning, CNN reported that NC GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse said that if the fraud allegation were found by the election board to have merit, he would support a new election for the congressional seat.
He told a CNN reporter that after seeing the network’s coverage of the allegations, he vomited. "This has shaken us to the core," Woodhouse said.
According to a Washington Post report Thursday, however, Woodhouse, along with the National Republican Congressional Committee, received complaints about potential absentee voting irregularities after incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger lost his bid to keep his seat to Harris largely because of voting in rural Bladen County.
Incoming House majority whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, is also calling for a new election, the News & Observer reported. "North Carolina ought to run e
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