State Board of Elections votes to hold new election in NC District 9

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North Carolina State Board of Elections votes unanimously to hold a new election in NC District 9. Credit: Derek Dellinger/FOX 46 Charlotte

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously to hold a new election in the 9th congressional district.

Republican candidate Mark Harris officially called for a new election in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District in a surprising move during Thursday's hearing into election fraud allegations stemming from his race with Democrat Dan McCready. 

Harris made the statement after an entire morning of questioning by election investigators.

Harris told the State Board of Elections questioned his recollection of events and cited an illness, and a resulting two strokes from that illness, as his reasons for calling for a new election.

“From the moment the first vote was stolen in North Carolina, from the moment the first voice was silenced by election fraud, the people have deserved justice. Today was a great step forward for democracy in North Carolina," McCready said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Earlier in the morning, Harris told investigators and the Board about how he initially met McCrae Dowless, who he eventually hired to be a campaign aide, focusing on Bladen County.  Dowless is at the center of the investigation into election fraud in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District Race in 2018.

Harris said he had met with Dowless upon the recommendation of a friend after a 2016 election loss.  Dowless had been part of a campaign that beat Harris during a previous Congressional run, and described an absentee ballot operation that, according to Harris, seemed completely transparent, legitimate and legal.

Before Harris took the stand, lawyers presented the State Board of Elections with new documents relating to the District 9 investigation.  Lawyers for Harris said they were under the impression they weren't within the scope of a subpoena.

Harris leads McCready by a 905-vote margin.  The Board of Elections has declined to certify the race since allegations of election fraud arose from Bladen County.  The Board has been investigating the allegations since.

Harris's tesimony comes on the heels of the testimony of his son, John Harris, who had expressed reservations in a series of e-mails to his father on Dowless's absentee ballot operation.  John Harris said his concerns were addressed by his father with Dowless, who denied any wrongdoing.

On Monday, investigators said there was an effort on the part of Dowless to conduct an election operation that was a "violation of the law".  Workers paid by Dowless testified untruthfully signed as witnesses on ballots and received unsealed and unmarked ballots.

Much of Tuesday and Wednesday's testimony focused on Andy Yates, founder of Red Dome Consulting, who said that Dowless had been hired by the Harris campaign prior to his political consulting firm coming on board.  He added that Red Dome largely gave him no oversight on the funds he was given.  He also said that he didn't know of any of Dowless's alleged wrongdoing prior to it being revealed in the hearing earlier this week.

Testimony on Tuesday also focused on the inner workings of the Bladen County Board of Elections, where poll workers revealed there were improper procedures and training surrounding the counting of ballots.