CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Republican Mark Harris filed an emergency petition Friday morning requesting the North Carolina State Board of Elections certify the District 9 congressional, effectively declaring him the winner and seating him in Congress. NCSBE Chair Joshua Malcolm responded that the board could not vote to certify Harris and that they were still waiting on him to produce a number of documents and provide an interview with board staff.
Harris narrowly defeated Democrat Dan McCready by less than 1,000 votes. The NCSBE refused to certify the results of the race and has been investigating absentee ballot irregularities in Bladen and Robeson counties.
The board is looking into the work of McCrae Dowless, who was hired by Harris for get out the vote efforts with absentee ballots. WBTV has also uncovered absentee ballot irregularities with another organization called the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC.
On Thursday a three-judge panel ordered that the NCSBE dissolve by noon Friday. The order is the result of a lawsuit brought by Governor Roy Cooper against the state legislature because of changes made to the board’s structure.
The order was originally issued on October 16, 2018 but stayed its ruling through early December, to allow the current NCSBE to administer the 2018 general election.
In the petition to certify the race, an attorney for the Harris campaign wrote that while they support a proper investigation the “State Board has failed to specifically outline any facts to support its decision not to certify the election results in the 9th District other than its references to ‘irregularities’" and that no protest to the election was ever filed with the board.
He went on to argue that constituents in the 9th District “have an expectation to be represented when Congress convenes January 3, 2019.”
NCSBE Chairman Joshua Malcolm quickly responded saying only two board members requested a hearing on Harris' petition and they would not be able to meet before the board dissolved at noon.
In his letter Malcolm wrote “Staff at the agency have made several attempts to schedule an interview with your client (Harris)" but that an interview has yet to take place.
He also noted that Harris is under a subpoena but that Harris “has made only one production on December 7 totaling 398 pages. Yet your client through counsel indicated that you possess roughly 140,000 additional documents that may be responsive but have not yet been produced.”
In an interview on WBT radio Friday morning Harris vented his frustrations that the board had previously investigated McCrae Dowless and others for absentee ballot irregularities in the 2016 election but did not take any action. The NCSBE released their investigative files earlier this month.
“If that material had not been sat on through 2017 all of this could have been avoided," Harris told WBT.
“I wouldn’t be in this situation had people done what they should have been doing.”
Harris told the host he wondered if no charges were brought because there wasn’t enough evidence or if it was something more “sinister.”
"Did they decide they would sit on this and they would wait and they would see and somehow if eleven million dollars in Dan McCready couldn’t beat Mark Harris this would be an insurance policy that they would play to get a do over,” Harris said.