NC state party leaders ready for Tuesday hearing on 9th District seat

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – The stage is set for the first formal discussion of the investigation into election fraud in the 9th District race for U.S. House of Representatives, but it won’t be in front of the state board of elections.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway will consider a petition from Republican Mark Harris for a Writ of Mandamus, a request asking the court to force the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to certify him as the winner of the contest.

Harris has an unofficial lead of 905 votes over Democrat Dan McCready, but the state board refused to certify the win at its Nov. 30, 2018, meeting with a 7 to 2 vote.

In the weeks since, more reports of absentee by mail ballot irregularities have surfaced, but the state board of elections was dissolved, leaving the future of the investigation — and a seat in Congress — in limbo.

Tuesday’s hearing, set for 10 a.m., is expected to at least determine what the next step for Harris will be. Democratic leaders in Congress have said they will not seat Harris, especially if he has no certificate of election. Others have said even if the state does certify the election, that the House could still refuse to seat him and launch its own investigation.

Harris claims in his petition that he has a right to be certified because the board has not provided evidence of election fraud, among other arguments.

Attorneys for McCready and the NCSBE refuted that claim, and have filed motions to dismiss.

Neither Harris or McCready will attend the hearing Tuesday in person with Harris citing an ongoing illness as the reason for his absence.

If the judge grants Harris’ request for a Writ of Mandamus, the NCSBE would not be able to immediately issue a certificate of election, as a new board will not take over until Jan. 31. Legal experts also suggested McCready and the NCSBE will likely appeal the decision to a higher court and ask for an immediate stay.

At a press conference Monday, NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said if the judge rules against Harris’ request, they will deal with the situation then.

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