A new election might not take place in North Carolina’s disputed 9th District for months even if a new State Board of Elections orders a re-run of the contest, leaving local elections officials scrambling and constituents without representation in the U.S. House. “The election might wind up in November,” said Gerry Cohen, former special counsel for the North Carolina General Assembly. “Obviously, people would like to have the vacant seat filled earlier. There’s a lot of moving pieces.” And the timetable for seating a representative in the district that stretches from south Charlotte to Fayetteville got even murkier this week. Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that a planned Jan. 11 hearing by the state elections board won’t happen, after the board was dissolved by a three-judge panel last week following a long-running, partisan battle between Cooper and the state legislature over its makeup.
A new state board won’t be appointed and in place until Jan. 31. In the meantime, Republican Mark Harris filed a lawsuit Thursday, asking a Wake County judge to force the state elections board to certify the results in his race against Democrat Dan McCready. Harris held a 905-vote margin in unofficial results, but that race has been clouded by an alleged ballot-harvesting scheme in Bladen County.
If the state board had been able to hold a hearing next week as planned, they could have ordered a new race and started the clock on the election machinery required to hold a new primary, a possible runoff and a general election for the 9th District. That would include a candidate filing period, time for voting absentee and statutory time limits specifying how many days there must be between each phase of the election.