Bladen County election workers tallied the results of early voting before Election Day in violation of state rules and are accused of allowing outsiders to view them, a precinct worker wrote in an affidavit released by state Democrats. The allegations raise new questions about missteps in an election fraud case in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District race that has garnered national attention and held up certification of the U.S. House contest. The report showing totals from Bladen County’s only early voting location was run on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 from 1:44 p.m. to 1:46 p.m., according to a copy released by the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, which is investigating voting irregularities among mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties. Due to the investigation, the board has refused to certify the results of the election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. The board plans to hold an evidentiary hearing before Dec. 21, but no date or location has been announced.
Under North Carolina election law, “if one-stop ballots … are counted electronically, that count shall commence at the time the polls close.” Polls closed in North Carolina on Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. “One-stop voting,” which is what early voting is called in North Carolina, ended on Nov. 3, according to the state board. A 2016 memo from the state board reinforced those policies.
“Recent events have highlighted the need to ensure that the critical responsibilities of canvassing an election are as uniform across the state as our polling place procedures, wrote Kim Strach, the executive director of the state board to county boards of elections in a June 7, 2016 memo.
A section of the nine-page memo is headlined: “Counting of Absentee Ballots on Election Day.”
But the procedures laid out in the memo were not followed in Bladen County in 2018, according to documents released by the state board and an affidavit signed by a precinct worker.