This article is from the source 'nytimes' and was first published or seen on . The next check for changes will be

You can find the current article at its original source at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/us/politics/north-carolina-election-fraud-republican.html

The article has changed 5 times. There is an RSS feed of changes available.

Version 3 Version 4
North Carolina Republicans Express Increasing Doubts on Disputed Election North Carolina Republicans Express Increasing Doubts on Disputed Election
(about 1 hour later)
ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. — North Carolina Republicans expressed mounting doubts on Thursday about a disputed congressional race that their candidate once seemed to have won, with one of the state party’s most influential figures saying a new election could be appropriate in the wake of fraud allegations.ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. — North Carolina Republicans expressed mounting doubts on Thursday about a disputed congressional race that their candidate once seemed to have won, with one of the state party’s most influential figures saying a new election could be appropriate in the wake of fraud allegations.
Lawmakers and strategists, effectively abandoning days of demands that state officials swiftly certify Mark Harris as the winner of the Ninth District’s House campaign, said they worried that absentee-ballot fraud may have infected both the November election and the Republican primary, which the incumbent, Robert M. Pittenger, lost in May. Mr. Pittenger has raised concerns about voting irregularities in the district. Lawmakers and strategists, effectively abandoning days of demands that state officials swiftly certify Mark Harris as the winner of the Ninth District’s House campaign, said they worried that absentee-ballot fraud may have infected both the November election and the Republican primary, which the incumbent, Robert M. Pittenger, lost in May. Mr. Pittenger has raised concerns about voting irregularities.
In Washington, Democrats, who will control the House beginning in January, including the likely House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, warned again that Mr. Harris might not be seated when the new Congress convenes. Some called for an immediate investigation. In Washington, Democrats, who will control the House in January, including the likely House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, warned again that Mr. Harris might not be seated when the new Congress convenes. Some called for an immediate investigation.
The Republican recalibration came as the Ninth District’s turmoil showed no sign of abating, especially before the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement holds a hearing this month. That proceeding, expected on or before Dec. 21, is likely to show the earliest fruits of an intensifying inquiry that has led to subpoenas and reviews of thousands of pages of records. The state board has not certified Mr. Harris as the winner of the election and has, for now, all but set aside preliminary results that give him a 905-vote edge over his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready. The Republican recalibration came as the Ninth District’s turmoil showed no sign of abating, especially before the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement holds a hearing on or before Dec. 21. That proceeding is likely to show the earliest fruits of an intensifying inquiry that has led to subpoenas and reviews of thousands of pages of records. The state board has not certified Mr. Harris as the winner and has, for now, all but set aside preliminary results that give him a 905-vote edge over his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready.
“They should lay out their cards so everyone knows fact from fiction and fact from innuendo,” said Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party. “If they can state with certainty that whatever bad behavior that took place could not have changed the race, then they should certify Mr. Harris. If they can state there was a substantial likelihood that the race could have been altered, then we would not oppose a new election.”“They should lay out their cards so everyone knows fact from fiction and fact from innuendo,” said Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party. “If they can state with certainty that whatever bad behavior that took place could not have changed the race, then they should certify Mr. Harris. If they can state there was a substantial likelihood that the race could have been altered, then we would not oppose a new election.”
The deepening concerns about the Ninth District center on Mr. Harris’s voter turnout operation, which partly relied on L. McCrae Dowless Jr., a political operative from Bladen County with both a felony record for fraud and an extensive history of working for Democratic and Republican campaigns. Witnesses have repeatedly described an effort that involved at least one seemingly illegal tactic: collecting absentee ballots directly from voters. The approach stirred worries that ballots may have been improperly marked for Mr. Harris or discarded if they were to be cast for Mr. McCready.The deepening concerns about the Ninth District center on Mr. Harris’s voter turnout operation, which partly relied on L. McCrae Dowless Jr., a political operative from Bladen County with both a felony record for fraud and an extensive history of working for Democratic and Republican campaigns. Witnesses have repeatedly described an effort that involved at least one seemingly illegal tactic: collecting absentee ballots directly from voters. The approach stirred worries that ballots may have been improperly marked for Mr. Harris or discarded if they were to be cast for Mr. McCready.
Mr. Dowless has declined to comment, and Mr. Harris and his supporters have denied wrongdoing. Mr. Dowless declined to comment, and Mr. Harris and his supporters have denied wrongdoing.
Democrats have warned that if the allegations about Mr. Harris’s campaign are not sufficiently settled, they would be reluctant to allow him to be seated in January. Ms. Pelosi reasserted on Thursday that the House would have the final say on who was seated and whether to investigate the election itself.Democrats have warned that if the allegations about Mr. Harris’s campaign are not sufficiently settled, they would be reluctant to allow him to be seated in January. Ms. Pelosi reasserted on Thursday that the House would have the final say on who was seated and whether to investigate the election itself.
“The House still retains the right to decide who is seated,” Ms. Pelosi said. “Any member-elect can object to the seating of, the swearing in of another member-elect, and we’ll see how that goes.”“The House still retains the right to decide who is seated,” Ms. Pelosi said. “Any member-elect can object to the seating of, the swearing in of another member-elect, and we’ll see how that goes.”
If North Carolina officials are not able to resolve the allegations in an acceptable way, she continued, the House Administration Committee has the authority to investigate the matter itself and ultimately determine a winner. If it was unable to, she added, the committee could call for a new election. (The House has the constitutional authority to be “the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members.”)If North Carolina officials are not able to resolve the allegations in an acceptable way, she continued, the House Administration Committee has the authority to investigate the matter itself and ultimately determine a winner. If it was unable to, she added, the committee could call for a new election. (The House has the constitutional authority to be “the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members.”)
“We’re all in a close touch on that because this is bigger than that one seat, this is about undermining the integrity of our elections,” Ms. Pelosi said. “And what was done there is so remarkable, that person — those entities got away with that, even to the detriment of the Republicans in the primary.”“We’re all in a close touch on that because this is bigger than that one seat, this is about undermining the integrity of our elections,” Ms. Pelosi said. “And what was done there is so remarkable, that person — those entities got away with that, even to the detriment of the Republicans in the primary.”
Indeed, Republicans grumbled quietly among themselves after Mr. Harris defeated Mr. Pittenger this year. Mr. Harris’s 828-vote margin of victory, they suggested, may have been tainted by Mr. Dowless’s efforts in places like Bladen County, which has a notorious history of political chicanery. Mr. Pittenger said in an email on Wednesday that Mr. Dowless had offered his services when the congressman and Mr. Harris first faced off more than two years ago.Indeed, Republicans grumbled quietly among themselves after Mr. Harris defeated Mr. Pittenger this year. Mr. Harris’s 828-vote margin of victory, they suggested, may have been tainted by Mr. Dowless’s efforts in places like Bladen County, which has a notorious history of political chicanery. Mr. Pittenger said in an email on Wednesday that Mr. Dowless had offered his services when the congressman and Mr. Harris first faced off more than two years ago.
“During the 2016 primary, I met with McCrae Dowless but quickly ended the meeting over personal concerns with his proposal,” Mr. Pittenger wrote. “We didn’t talk long enough for me to gather detailed information — I just knew I didn’t want to be involved with him.”“During the 2016 primary, I met with McCrae Dowless but quickly ended the meeting over personal concerns with his proposal,” Mr. Pittenger wrote. “We didn’t talk long enough for me to gather detailed information — I just knew I didn’t want to be involved with him.”
Without elaboration, he added, “Dowless’ efforts were widely known and we did share our concerns with several people.”Without elaboration, he added, “Dowless’ efforts were widely known and we did share our concerns with several people.”
Mr. Woodhouse, the state party’s executive director, said in an interview on Thursday morning that he did not “really recall” any complaints from Mr. Pittenger’s allies, but said he did not dispute that the congressman’s supporters may have expressed concerns.Mr. Woodhouse, the state party’s executive director, said in an interview on Thursday morning that he did not “really recall” any complaints from Mr. Pittenger’s allies, but said he did not dispute that the congressman’s supporters may have expressed concerns.
“We often get people trying to get us to referee issues with Republican primaries, and we avoid that,” Mr. Woodhouse said. “If we had some kind of absentee ballot mail doing things that were illegal, we would have been the first people to call the authorities.”“We often get people trying to get us to referee issues with Republican primaries, and we avoid that,” Mr. Woodhouse said. “If we had some kind of absentee ballot mail doing things that were illegal, we would have been the first people to call the authorities.”
Republicans said Thursday that they were not forsaking Mr. Harris and his candidacy. Some even argued that Mr. Woodhouse, who said during a CNN segment that misconduct in the Ninth District had made him vomit late on Wednesday night, did not support a new round of voting.Republicans said Thursday that they were not forsaking Mr. Harris and his candidacy. Some even argued that Mr. Woodhouse, who said during a CNN segment that misconduct in the Ninth District had made him vomit late on Wednesday night, did not support a new round of voting.
“We are not saying that,” said Robin Hayes, the chairman of the state party, who blamed the media for misreporting Mr. Woodhouse’s remarks. “We are saying that we want the investigation to be completed.”“We are not saying that,” said Robin Hayes, the chairman of the state party, who blamed the media for misreporting Mr. Woodhouse’s remarks. “We are saying that we want the investigation to be completed.”
Mr. Hayes, a former congressman, added, “At this point in the process, based on what we know, we think that Mark Harris has fairly and legitimately won the race,” but that “if the facts and the numbers support calling for another election, then we would support it.”Mr. Hayes, a former congressman, added, “At this point in the process, based on what we know, we think that Mark Harris has fairly and legitimately won the race,” but that “if the facts and the numbers support calling for another election, then we would support it.”
In Raleigh, where the legislature on Thursday approved a new voter ID law that included new documentation requirements for absentee voting, Republican lawmakers said they were frustrated by the swirl of allegations in Bladen County. They urged Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, to appoint a task force to focus on years of potential election fraud in the area. In Raleigh, where the legislature on Thursday approved a new voter ID law that included new documentation requirements for absentee voting, Republicans said they were frustrated by the swirl of allegations in Bladen County. They urged Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, to appoint a task force to focus on years of potential election fraud in the area.
Mr. Cooper did not embrace the suggestion, which Democrats said could undermine the work of the state elections board, which includes four Democrats, four Republicans and one unaffiliated member.Mr. Cooper did not embrace the suggestion, which Democrats said could undermine the work of the state elections board, which includes four Democrats, four Republicans and one unaffiliated member.
“Governor Cooper believes North Carolinians should have confidence in the integrity of elections and allegations of fraud and tampering must be investigated,” said Ford Porter, a spokesman for the governor. “There are multiple ongoing criminal investigations, and legislators should allow investigators and prosecutors to follow the facts and take appropriate action.” “Governor Cooper believes North Carolinians should have confidence in the integrity of elections and allegations of fraud and tampering must be investigated,” said a spokesman, Ford Porter. “There are multiple ongoing criminal investigations, and legislators should allow investigators and prosecutors to follow the facts and take appropriate action.”
Mr. McCready on Thursday withdrew his month-old concession to Mr. Harris.Mr. McCready on Thursday withdrew his month-old concession to Mr. Harris.
“I didn’t serve overseas in the Marine Corps just to come back home and watch politicians and career criminals attack our democracy,” Mr. McCready said in a video on his Twitter account. “That’s why today I withdraw my concession to Mark Harris.”“I didn’t serve overseas in the Marine Corps just to come back home and watch politicians and career criminals attack our democracy,” Mr. McCready said in a video on his Twitter account. “That’s why today I withdraw my concession to Mark Harris.”