Investigation into alleged election fraud in 9th Congressional District continues

Investigators continued to look into allegations of election fraud in the 9th Congressional District after the State Board of Elections declined to certify the results last week.

"I know that they are investigating alleged election fraud and some of it sounds bad. So I think the Board is doing its duty," Gov. Roy Cooper said during an unrelated event Tuesday.

Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes.

Last week, the State Board of Elections voted 7-2 to hold an evidentiary hearing over "claims of numerous irregularities" and "concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee mail ballots."

"North Carolina has the most transparent database, updated every day of absentee ballots, partly as an anti-fraud prevention," explained Gerry Cohen, the former Special Counsel to the North Carolina General Assembly.

Cohen spent 37 years in North Carolina politics and said he's never seen any election fraud allegations in this scope.

Harris won 61 percent of the mail-in vote in Bladen County, despite analysis by Catawba College political scientist Michael Blitzer found only 19 percent of voters there were registered Republicans. According to analysis of mail-in data by our news partners at the News and Observer, 64 percent of mail-in ballots in Robeson County were not returned, well above the district-wide average of 24 percent.

"Statistical anomalies can point you to potential problems. A lot of times there are a series of things that on their own can have perfectly good explanations. But then when you have fifteen different ones of them running in different directions, and you have affidavits from people about particular aspects that don't fit in with the legal explanation but with the illegal explanation, the statistics paint a picture," said Cohen.

There are four criteria that the State Board of Elections uses to determine whether a new election is necessary:

1. Ineligible voters sufficient in number to change the outcome of the election were allowed to vote in the election, and it is not possible from an examination of the official ballots to determine how those ineligible voters voted and to correct the totals.
2. Eligible voters sufficient in number to change the outcome of the election were improperly prevented from voting.
3. Other irregularities affected a sufficient number of votes to change the outcome of the election.
4. Irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness.

While the first three criteria note the outcome of the election, the fourth has a different threshold.

"It could be invoked if the State sees this enormous pattern of fraud, but can't specifically say it's 906 ballots. That could be triggered by the State Board of Elections, and is very important to keep in mind," Cohen said.

The State Board of Elections will hear the evidence by Dec. 21.

"There is no court that has jurisdiction over this. Appeals from the State Board of Elections under the U.S. Constitution go directly to the U.S. House of Representatives," said Cohen.

If needed, a new election could not take place until after Congress convenes on Jan. 3, creating a temporary vacancy in the seat.
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