GOP House can­di­date would back new elec­tion

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Jonathan Drew

RALEIGH, N. C. — The Repub­li­can can­di­date in North Carolina’s un­re­solved con­gres­sional race said Fri­day that he would sup­port a new elec­tion if it’s proved that fraud changed the out­come of the con­test, as fur­ther de­tails emerged about his cam­paign ow­ing money for bal­lot work that’s the fo­cus of a state in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mark Harris re­leased a video state­ment ad­dress­ing al­le­ga­tions of ab­sen­tee- bal­lot fraud less than a day af­ter his cam­paign ac­knowl­edged in a fed­eral fil­ing that it owes $ 34,310 to a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant for work in a county where mail- in- bal­lot problems emerged.

The state Board of Elec­tions has re­fused to cer­tify elec­tion re­sults that give Harris a 905- vote lead.

“If this in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds proof of il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity — on ei­ther side — to such a level that it could have changed the out­come of the elec­tion, then I would whole­heart­edly sup­port a new elec­tion to en­sure all vot­ers have con­fi­dence in the re­sults,” Harris said.

He added: “I was ab­so­lutely un­aware of any wrong­do­ing.”

A Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion fil­ing by the Harris cam­paign late Thurs­day re­ferred to money owed to the Red Dome Group for debts in­clud­ing: “Re­im­burse­ment Pay­ment for Bladen Ab­sen­tee, Early Vot­ing Poll Work­ers; Re­im­burse­ment Door to Door.”

Bladen County’s ab­sen­tee bal­lots are at the cen­ter of a probe that prompted the elec­tions board to refuse last week to cer­tify Harris as the win­ner over Demo­crat Dan McCready in the 9th Dis­trict. The board cited al­le­ga­tions of “fraud­u­lent ac­tiv­i­ties” in­volv­ing mail- in bal­lots.

The board could or­der a new elec­tion.

Some Bladen County vot­ers have said strangers came to their homes to col­lect their ab­sen­tee bal­lots, whether or not they had been com­pleted or sealed in an en­ve­lope to keep them from be­ing al­tered, ac­cord­ing to af­fi­davits of­fered by the state Demo­cratic Party. State law al­lows only a fam­ily mem­ber or le­gal guardian to drop off ab­sen­tee bal­lots for a voter.

Red Dome hired Bladen County con­trac­tor McCrae Dow­less, whose record in­cludes prison time in 1995 for felony fraud and a con­vic­tion for felony per­jury in 1992.

Robe­son County is an­other area where the state board has sought in­for­ma­tion as part of its probe.

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