Harris files petition to certify NC-09 election results; McCready, NCSBE respond

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Responsive briefs have been filed in a petition to get the North Carolina 9th Congressional District results certified.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections, along with Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready all filed the briefs Monday.  Harris filed the petition earlier this month, asking a court to certify the election results, which have him leading by 905 votes over McCready.

The election race has been marred by reports of potential election fraud, centering in Bladen County and involving McCrae Dowless, a man who worked for Harris's campaign.  Dowless contends he has done nothing wrong.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections was dissolved in late December for reasons unrelated to the 9th District Congressional Race.  The board's staff continues their investigation into reports of election fraud in the race.

In their response, the North Carolina State Board of Elections made several pointed contentions on Harris' petition, saying that his request was not warranted because, even before the board was dissolved, they had either voted unanimously or by a significant majority to not certify the results because of the reports of election irregularities.  They also said that the Board had not failed to do its job", and certifying the election before the investigation was complete would be against state law would, citing a previous North Carolina court decision, "result in a mockery of the democratic process for nominating and electing public officials".

McCready's brief with the court supports the argument from the State Board of Elections, adding that Harris failed to demonstrate the need for action in his petition with the court to certify the race, and that Harris "had no clear right to be certified as the winner" while the investigation is taking place.  The brief also adds that previous court decisions that Harris could make applicable in this case are not relevant to the District 9 race, and noted the differing circumstances.

Harris' brief, which totals over 600 pages with a large amount of that being exhibits, states his belief that the court has the power to force certification of the results, stating that Harris "won the race...before the Board was dissolved" and adds that his petition to the court to certify the results is valid.

Harris's brief said he has met the criteria for the court to force certification.  The North Carolina State Board of Elections and the McCready campaign, in their briefs, indicated otherwise.

Local Democratic leaders have said the race should only be certified once the election is complete. 

Republican leaders said the election should be certified while the investigation into election fraud continues.

National Democratic leaders said they may intervene in seating Harris should the election be certified before an investigation is complete.