NC GOP leader calls for new 9th District election if early voting numbers were leaked

NC GOP leader calls for new 9th Congressional District election if early voting numbers were leaked

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse called for a new House District 9 election and primary if early voting totals were leaked by elections officials.

Woodhouse said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference that the party is pretty certain that did happen.

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Woodhouse called on the state to take over the Bladen County Board of Elections.

Unofficial 9th District results show Republican Mark Harris leading Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes.

(Harris, McCready)

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Last month, the Board of Elections delayed certifying the results due to alleged absentee balloting irregularities.

Officials have been investigating activities in Bladen and Robeson counties, which are part of the 9th Congressional district.

Woodhouse said Tuesday that the NC GOP still stands with Harris and believes he had no knowledge of wrongdoing.

"We believe it is against his character," Woodhouse said.

Channel 9 uncovered absentee ballots were illegally collected in Bladen County and taken to the office of McCrae Dowless, who Dowless was hired by Huntersville-based Red Dome and the Harris campaign.

McCready eventually took back his concession.

Now the FBI is investigating and calls for a new election are growing.

This all stems back to an affidavit Eyewitness News political reporter Joe Bruno obtained last week. The sworn testimony was made by a poll worker named Agnes Willis.

"On Saturday, 11/3/18, the last day of early voting, the tape showing election results at the one-stop polling site was run after the polls closed and was viewed by officials at the one-stop site who were not judges,” Willis said. “It is my understanding that this was improper."

Woodhouse said, in his mind, that testimony taints everything and casts doubt on the fairness of the process. That's why if the allegation is true, he thinks there should be a new election

"Because all elections are imperfect, but the leaking of the early voting totals, which we feel pretty sure did happen, would take us over that threshold,” Woodhouse said.

In another affidavit, a woman in Bladen County claims she witnessed early voting results being printed and viewed by people days before Election Day, which is against state law.

The early vote totals being leaked is a huge deal because any campaign or person with knowledge of those totals would have a huge advantage.

Channel 9 just obtained a new affidavit with more accusations against Dowless, accused of paying people to illegally collect ballots.

Channel 9 spoke to women who said a man named McCrae Dowless paid them to collect ballots and encouraged undecided voters to vote for Harris.

Another person has come forward and provided sworn testimony about Dowless

In an affidavit, a registered Republican named Kenneth Simmons said during the campaign, he saw Dowless with a large number of absentee ballots.

Simmons said in the affidavit that he asked Dowless why he had that many ballots.

According to the document, Dowless said he had 800 ballots in his possession and that they are not turned in until the last day because the opposition would know how many votes they had to make up.

In the affidavit, Simmons said his concern was that these ballots were not going to be turned in.

That's wrong on two accounts.

First, it's illegal to collect absentee ballots and neither party should know any outcome until after the election is over.

Bruno first reported on another affidavit two weeks ago.

The state released a picture of those results as evidence.

Republicans in Raleigh announced a new elections bill that would call for a new primary if a new election is ordered by the state.

That's a big deal because as of now, if the state orders a new election it is a rematch between Harris, McCready and the Libertarian candidate.

Channel 9 contacted the office of current District 9 Rep. Robert Pittenger on Tuesday.

His chief of staff would not comment on whether Pittenger would run in a new primary, but he shared the following statement:

"Congressman Pittenger is focused on the terrorism and security forums he has planned for 2019 and is excited about the future."

He went on to say Pittenger is “currently evaluating the latest 9th District news just like everyone else."

If a new election is ordered, federal law mandates 45 days for absentee voting.

The State Board of Elections, which is investigating the issue, is about to turn over Wednesday at noon.

Republicans in Raleigh addressed that concern, as well.

The 9th District investigation wrapped up by the current board. GOP leaders are asking the court to extend its stay and allow the board to operate until Jan. 31 or whenever the probe is finished.

The head of the North Carolina Democratic Party held a news conference on Raleigh Tuesday, calling on Harris to answer questions publicly. Harris has only released a video statement saying he supports an investigation and he did not know about wrongdoing.

The state Board of Elections will hold an evidentiary hearing, which will happen in the next 10 days.

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