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Wake County judge refuses to seat Mark Harris in N.C. District 9

voting file
Early voting for lieutenant governor and many other state elected officials ends Saturday, Feb. 29. Election day is Tuesday, March 3 in North Carolina.

A Wake County judge denied Republican Mark Harris’ argument on Tuesday to be seated as the new representative in N.C. District 9 as the investigation into election fraud continues.

Republican Mark Harris seemed to narrowly defeat Democratic opponent Dan McCready by only 905 votes in the midterm election on Nov. 6. The N.C. State Board of Electionsopened an investigation shortly after the election and delayed certification of Harris’ win.

According to a statement on Tuesday’s ruling from the SBOE, election staff are preparing for a public evidentiary hearing to give North Carolinians a full picture of the alleged issues with the election. 

On Dec. 28, the court unexpectedly dissolved the election board. Five members are expected to be appointed to the board on or after Jan. 31. Only after a full hearing on record will SBOE members be able to make an informed decision on whether to certify a winner or order a new election. 

Sarah Flowers, deputy press secretary of the N.C. Democratic Party, said her party believes in the necessity of a complete investigation of the election fraud. 

“We think that there’s enough evidence to call for a new election. Our North Carolina law says that there’s regularities that change the entire election or cast doubt on its fairness, so there could possibly be a new one call,” Flowers said. “But we think that there’s overwhelming evidence that the election has been tainted.” 

Wayne Goodwin, chair of the N.C. Democratic Party, also released a statement after Tuesday’s hearing. 

“We are pleased that Harris’ frivolous request has been denied and that North Carolina can get back to investigating allegations of systematic electoral fraud committed on behalf of Harris’ campaign," Goodwin said in the statement. "Only a full, public investigation can begin to repair the damage Mark Harris and North Carolina Republicans have inflicted on our state and our voters.”

Jeff Hauser, spokesperson at N.C. Republican Party, said his party looks forward to the state board meeting to have a conclusion of the election result. 

“At the moment, there is no public evidence to say that fraud actually happened," Hauser said. "So I hope to see any evidence they have made public as soon as possible so this entire investigation can come to a conclusion."

Marc Hetherington, professor of political science at UNC, said he is worried that politicians might do anything to benefit their side in such a highly polarized political environment, so he hopes a new election can solve the problem. 

“I can’t imagine another remedy for the problem than having another election because we can’t know with any certainty how many votes were affected by the fraud that took place,” Hetherington said. “So I don’t think it’s likely that they would declare the other candidate the winner. It seems to me that there’s going to have to be a replace in the election.”

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