The North Carolina Elections Board has disbanded following allegations of ballot fraud, CNN is reporting. The unofficial count for the 9th congressional district has Republican Mark Harris beating Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. The board refused to certify Harris, however, after allegations arose that workers on Harris' campaign were "harvesting" votes that were done by absentee ballot, causing suspicious irregularities in the final count. Harris filed an emergency petition on Friday, December 28, to certify his lead in the election. The elections board dissolved shortly after, even though they were planning to hold an evidentiary hearing in the case on January 11, 2019.
The board, which was made up of nine people, was denied in its current form by a three-judge panel. According to new state law, Governor Roy Cooper is in charge of appointing members to the board, although that rule was not set to go into effect until January 31, 2019. Under these unforeseen circumstances, Cooper says he will appoint five temporary members to the board under the old rules to preside until the end of January "to hasten the investigatory work by the Board and maintain continuity." Many State Republicans are in opposition to this decision and are planning to take it to court.As for the former board members, they are said to still be able to investigate the allegations on their own but are now unable to issue subpoenas, hold hearings, or call for a new election. The board was hoping to call for a new election in 2019 if the voter fraud allegations were proven. According to Joshua Malcolm, who was the Democratic chair of the board, the evidence was beginning to pile up.
"To date, the State Board's investigative staff has conducted more than 100 interviews, and the staff is actively engaged in the review of more than 182,000 pages of materials produced in response to 12 subpoenas issued by the State Board," Malcolm said in an affidavit on December 21.
Harris, for his part, denies the allegations. North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said that while they indeed have a lot of material, none of the information gathered is solid proof of the allegations made against Harris and his campaign workers.
"It is important to note that no serious evidence of some of the most concerning allegations including widespread destruction of ballots ever materialized," Hayes said in a statement."There is simply no concrete evidence to show that even the mishandling of some absentee ballots amounted to a change of more than a thousand votes in this race."