Politics & Government

NC elections board delays hearing on 9th Congressional District irregularities

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A hearing on the North Carolina elections board’s investigation into voting irregularities in the state’s 9th Congressional District has been pushed into 2019.

The N.C. State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement announced Friday that it will conduct a public evidentiary hearing at 10 a.m. on Jan. 11. It had planned to hold the hearing by Dec. 21.

The new date means Republican Mark Harris is unlikely to be seated with the new Congress when members are sworn in Jan. 3.

“The location and details of the proceedings will be released in the coming days. State investigators are awaiting additional documents from parties subpoenaed in this matter and finalizing the investigation prior to the hearing,” board spokesman Pat Gannon said in an email to media outlets.

It’s the latest development in an ongoing investigation into the race between Harris and Democrat Dan McCready that continues to be unresolved more than a month after the general election.

Last month, Harris appeared to beat McCready by about 905 votes, but the elections board declined to certify the results as it reviews unusual patterns in mail-in absentee ballots.

The House can decide not to seat Harris, whose race won’t be certified by that date.

The N.C. elections board has subpoenaed the Harris campaign and one of its consulting firms, Red Dome Group, while also posting questionable mail-in ballots and other materials to its website. Board members haven’t publicly disclosed how their findings affected the election.

Robin Hayes, chairman of the NC. Republican Party, called on the elections board to reveal to the public why it’s delaying the hearing.

“The North Carolina Republican Party understands the issues in Congressional District Nine are complicated. We understand the investigation — which we fully support — may need more time, but it is unfair to the voters and Dr. Harris not to present some public evidence for review before the new Congress convenes,” Hayes said in a statement emailed to the media.

“The Board should show what they have obtained now,” Hayes said.

Paul “Andy” Specht reports on North Carolina leaders and state politics for The News & Observer and PolitiFact. Specht previously covered Raleigh City Hall and town governments around the Triangle. He’s a Raleigh native who graduated from Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. Contact him at aspecht@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4870.
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