State BOE expands election investigation, asks for extension

Board of Elections investigating more races

BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - WBTV Investigates has uncovered the North Carolina State Board of Elections is widening its election fraud investigation in Bladen County. At the same time, board chair Joshua Malcolm is making his case to judges to extend the deadline before the board dissolves.

The NCSBE election fraud investigation began after the board refused to certify the results of the 9th Congressional District race between Mark Harris (R) and Dan McCready (D). Allegations of absentee ballot tampering and evidence of irregularities in absentee ballots uncovered by WBTV Investigates have only led to more questions.

Wednesday, an official from the NCSBE was at the Bladen County Board of Elections office pulling information on campaign finance reports. One of the reports the official inquired about was from Ray Britt, who ran for a Bladen County commission seat in 2016.

WBTV Investigates also found an unusual mailing in the campaign finance folder of 2018 Sheriff candidate Hakeem Brown. An envelope addressed to the NCSBE Compliance and Disclosure Division was sent by Bladen County elections officials and included spending and fundraising reports from Brown.

Both Brown and Britt have not responded to WBTV’s request for a comment or interview.

A spokesperson from the NCSBE did not answer our questions regarding the investigation.

By Wednesday night there was new clarification about the NCSBE’s immediate future, but not enough to answer all the board’s questions.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that would allow the NCSBE to remain active until January 31, 2019, in theory long enough to finish their investigation. Governor Roy Cooper’s Office is reviewing the legislation.

A letter from board Chairman Joshua Malcolm, obtained by WBTV, asks state judges if they approve of the new 2019 deadline. Wednesday the three-judge panel in the 10th District ruled that the board would not dissolve until December 28th. Malcolm asked if that could be extended.

“It is my strong belief that it is in the public interest that the current board remain in place until Congressional District 9 and the remaining contests from the 2018 general election have been finalized through issuance of certifications of elections or final order by the agency,” Malcolm wrote.

“Due to the complexity of the ongoing investigation, and based on non-public information regarding Congressional District 9, it is my belief that a transition during this time would work against the public’s interest, undermining ongoing activities and eroding public confidence in the eventual determinations made by this agency.”

The new bill would also mandate a new primary election in the 9th District if the NCSBE determines a new general election is necessary.

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