North Carolina election officials have declined to certify the winner of the state’s Ninth Congressional District election, after allegations were made suggesting absentee ballots may have been tampered with. Elections officials and Democrats have been careful not to allege any specific wrongdoing so far. But the allegations suggest some kind of scheme, undertaken by people supporting the GOP campaign, to influence the results of an election ultimately decided by less than 1,000 votes. According to the votes as currently counted, Republican Mark Harris beat Democrat Dan McCready by a little more than 900 votes to become the next Congress member from the Ninth. But earlier this week, the state board of elections unanimously agreed it would not certify the election results, making vague references to “unfortunate activities” that raised doubts about their veracity.
Some specific irregularities were later revealed in sworn affidavits sent by Democratic attorneys to the state board. Multiple voters described an unidentified woman coming to voters’ houses and taking their absentee ballots. Some ballots were uncompleted; the woman promised to finish filling them out. In other affidavits, voters alleged that a local political operative was working for the Harris campaign on absentee ballots and that he would be paid a bonus if Harris beat McCready. This is also not the first time the operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, Jr., has been linked to unusual allegations over absentee ballots.
Furthermore, political scientists in the state have noted that the Ninth District had an unusually high number of mail-in absentee ballots requested but then not returned to be counted. Almost one in four of those requested absentee ballots were not returned in the Ninth, substantially higher in than any other North Carolina congressional district.