Judge denies Mark Harris' petition; votes will not be certified in NC09

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Tuesday was a big day in North Carolina’s ninth district. A judge denied republican Mark Harris' petition to certify the results of an election fraught with controversy.

The decision was decisive on Mark Harris's petition to the court. The judge said the petition didn't have standing. Now the question is-- what’s next in the investigation into absentee ballot fraud?

"The court orders that the writ of mandamus from the petitioner be denied,” Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway said definitively Tuesday morning. 

Political experts say it would've been an uphill fight for Harris in his petition to get the District 9 race certified, and the decision from Judge Ridgeway, at the very least, delays Harris' chance at the congressional seat.

Harris’ attorneys argue that he's leading the race, giving legal reasoning for being certified.

LINK: NC09 hearing set for Tuesday; Mark Harris will not attend

The State Board of Elections says they still have an investigation on their hands, and Democrat Dan McCready's campaign sided with the Board.    

“We look forward to providing a full accounting of what transpired once a Board is seated,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, State Board executive director. “Public confidence in our elections system demands it.”

Harris' attorneys say they were ready for whatever decision, and after it came down they said their case isn't over.

“I’m hoping the election board gets seated January 31st, and relatively quickly after that, there will be a hearing,” said David Freedman, an attorney for the Mark Harris campaign. 

The State Board of Elections was dissolved last month for reasons unrelated to the District 9 race, but Board staff have continued their investigation into election fraud.

Harris’ attorneys tried to argue that the Board of Elections could certify while continuing their investigation, but the judge ruled they had no legal right to do so. 

“We’re going to be ready to go, we're not going to take any actions to delay that,” Freeman said. 

Aaron Simpson, a spokesperson for McCready's campaign, says their push for answers isn't over.

“It tells us that a lot of questions have to be answered. and those answers will come from the evidence from the investigation from a hearing,” Simpson said. 

There was a real sense from the judge that this was a matter reserved for the State Board of Elections.  It's been dissolved, but a new one is due to be appointed at the end of the month.  

The Harris campaign has the option to appeal. He released a statement Tuesday evening saying: