N.C. Demo­crat drops race con­ces­sion amid probe

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - By GARY D. ROBERT­SON and JONATHAN DREW The As­so­ci­ated Press

Con­gres­sional race still un­de­cided one month af­ter elec­tion

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Demo­crat trail­ing in a North Car­olina con­gres­sional race with­drew his con­ces­sion Thurs­day as state elec­tion of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gated al­le­ga­tions of ab­sen­tee bal­lot fraud.

Dan McCready’s re­ver­sal came as a top leader at the state’s Repub­li­can Party said it would sup­port a new elec­tion in the un­re­solved 9th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict race if an in­ves­ti­ga­tion shows that wrong­do­ing swayed its out­come.

Un­of­fi­cial to­tals have Repub­li­can Mark Har­ris lead­ing McCready by 905 votes. But the state elec­tions board re­fused to cer­tify the re­sults last week be­cause of al­le­ga­tions of “ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and con­certed fraud­u­lent ac­tiv­i­ties” in­volv­ing mail-in bal­lots in the dis­trict. The board is meet­ing later this month to hear ev­i­dence, but it’s un­clear whether the race will be set­tled then. The board could or­der a new elec­tion.

McCready, an Iraq War vet­eran who out­raised Har­ris in the cam­paign, ini­tially con­ceded the day af­ter the elec­tion, when Har­ris’ lead was less than 1,900 votes. The mar­gin was cut by half the next week, but he de­clined to seek a re­count. He changed his mind with the ar­rival of the al­le­ga­tions, some of which have been linked to a man who worked for Har­ris’ chief strate­gist.

“I didn’t serve over­seas in the Ma­rine Corps just to come back and watch politi­cians and ca­reer crim­i­nals at­tack our democ­racy,” McCready said. “That’s why to­day I with­draw my con­ces­sion to Mark Har­ris, who’s re­mained com­pletely silent.”

At is­sue is who can han­dle com­pleted bal­lots. North Car­olina law

al­lows only a fam­ily mem­ber or le­gal guardian to drop off ab­sen­tee bal­lots for a voter.

In af­fi­davits of­fered by the state Demo­cratic Party, some Bladen County vot­ers have de­scribed that peo­ple came to their homes to col­lect their ab­sen­tee bal­lots, whether or not they had been fully com­pleted or sealed in an en­ve­lope to keep them from be­ing al­tered.

A state elec­tion board

spokesman con­firmed Thurs­day that sub­poe­nas seek­ing doc­u­ments had been sent to the Har­ris cam­paign, the Red Dome Group, which worked for Har­ris, and the cam­paign com­mit­tee of the sit­ting Bladen sher­iff. The board re­leased doc­u­ments show­ing that McCrae Dow­less, the con­trac­tor hired by Red Dome, seems to have col­lected the most ab­sen­tee bal­lot re­quest forms in Bladen County this fall. Dow­less has a felony crim­i­nal record.

“I call on Mark Har­ris to tell us ex­actly what he knew and when he knew it,” McCready said. The Har­ris cam­paign and Red Dome founder Andy Yates didn’t re­spond to an email seek­ing com­ment.

Ear­lier Thurs­day, state GOP Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Dal­las Wood­house texted a state­ment to The As­so­ci­ated Press say­ing that the GOP would back a new elec­tion if the state’s elec­tions board were to show that ab­sen­tee bal­lot is­sues changed the out­come.

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