The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously on February 21 to order a new election in the state’s 9th Congressional District following four days of hearings on alleged ballot tampering and election fraud.
The state Board will set the date for the primary and general election, unlike the nearby 3rd Congressional District, whose upcoming special election will be scheduled by the governor. Rep. Walter Jones (R), who represented North Carolina’s 3rd District since 1995, died on February 10.
Pastor Mark Harris (R) led businessman Dan McCready (D) by 905 votes according to unofficial returns last November. The board declined to certify the results after reports surfaced of voting irregularities in Bladen County.
In the months-long investigation that followed, evidence was presented allegedly showing that Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., a Harris campaign contractor, and others had engaged in misconduct in the handling of absentee ballots.
Harris said during the hearing that he was unaware of any illegal behavior and also called for a new election. While prosecutors are examining the Dowless operation, no criminal charges have been brought against anyone in the matter.
Incumbent Robert Pittenger (R), who was first elected in 2012, was defeated by Harris in the Republican primary last May.