North Carolina orders redo election in ninth district


Photo credit to Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina’s first and eleventh congressional districts were ruled unconstitutional in 2011, when a U.S. circuit judge found them to be racially gerrymandered. The ninth district includes part of Charlotte and is also divided in a suspect manner.

Will Cohen, Online news editor

North Carolina has developed a reputation as a state with illegal gerrymandering, voting rights violations and now, election fraud. After hearings concluded on February 21, the five member bipartisan election board unanimously agreed to hold a new election in the state’s ninth congressional district. The final undecided seat from the 2018 midterms will remain unfilled as a redo election is set to take place in the near future.

Voting irregularities became apparent soon after the election, and were confirmed during hearings. It later was evident that a large scale, absentee ballot scheme had been used to sway the election in Republican Mark Harris’ favor. Political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless has found himself at the center of the investigation.

“Multiple people have testified to the state board that they were paid by Dowless to collect ballots, which is illegal in the state. One woman, Lisa Britt, testified that she also filled out some down-ballot races that voters had left blank when she collected their ballots, which is against the law,” Miles Parks said in an article for NPR.
Harris initially denied all accusations against him and his campaign of election fraud, blaming the “liberal media” for “unsubstantiated slandering”. Evidently, Harris was not fully truthful in his prior statements, showing a serious lack of credibility from a prospective member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Harris’ son, John Harris, is a federal prosecutor in Raleigh who ended up testifying against his father during the hearings, causing him to break into tears in a dramatic turn of events.

“I thought what [Dowless] was doing was illegal, and I was right,” Harris said. “I had no reason to believe that my father or mother knew Dowless was doing the things that have been described [this week]. I think they were lied to, and they believed the person who lied to them.”

Harris has not ruled out running in the second election, although GOP officials have strongly urged against it. Party officials cite the recent timing of his scandal, Harris’ poor health and a lack of campaign funds.

“This is a witch-hunt by the liberal media. Harris did nothing wrong and should run again,” junior Zach LaChapelle said.

It was later announced on Tuesday, February 26 that Harris would not run, saying that he needs to focus on his health and will be getting surgery soon. Democrat Dan McCready is expected to receive significant support from Democratic officials in the first redo election for a House seat in more than 40 years. Even with Republicans controlling the ninth district congressional seat since 1963, Democrats feel confident in McCready following the election fraud revelations and the narrow margin by which he lost to Harris in the first election.

“While still in a fairly Republican district, I do think Dan McCready does stand a chance because he was a pretty popular candidate in the original election,” junior Jacob Coffey said.