A new state elections board expected to be named this week could finally resolve North Carolina’s disputed 9th District congressional election — or push it even deeper into uncharted territory. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to appoint the new, 5-member State Board of Elections by Thursday. It’s expected to schedule a hearing into allegations of election fraud in the 9th District. But from there the bipartisan board could deadlock, refusing to either certify the election of Republican Mark Harris or order a new election. That would further delay resolution of a situation that already has left 733,000 North Carolinians without representation in Congress. “This situation is unprecedented,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs of the House Administration Committee, told Politico this month. Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in unofficial returns. But in late November the previous state board twice declined to certify the election, citing reports of absentee ballot irregularities centered in Bladen County. The board launched an investigation, which has continued even after a court dissolved the board on Dec. 28 over a separate dispute.
Last week a Wake County judge refused Harris’ request to order the election certified, kicking it back to the elections board.
Cooper has until Thursday to name three Democrats and two Republicans to a new elections board. The board could certify Harris’ election or order a new election.
But state law requires four votes to order a new election, and three to certify Harris’ election. That means at least one Republican would have to join the three Democrats in calling a new election, or one Democrat would need to join the two Republicans to certify Harris.