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GOP candidate sues to force North Carolina to certify election results

By
Nicholas Sakelaris

Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The Republican candidate in an unresolved North Carolina congressional race has filed a lawsuit to force the state to certify the Nov. 6 election results.

Mark Harris, who was 905 votes ahead of his Democratic opponent Dan McCready in the 9th District, filed the suit on Thursday.

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A three-judge panel dissolved the state elections board last week after a battle over its makeup -- before the 9th District results had been certified. The resulting limbo could leave the seat open for months.

Harris said that by not certifying the election results on time, the board "effectively replaces the will of the voters and Legislature with its own."

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Democrats disputed the results in the race, alleging that Harris' campaign went door to door collecting absentee ballots.

Harris has denied the accusations but did say that he hired McCrae Dowless to run his absentee ballot operations in Bladen County. Dowless has been accused of ballot harvesting in the 9th District in past elections.

The 9th District stretches from south Charlotte to Fayetteville.

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Even if Harris were declared the winner, the Democrat-controlled House could block him from being seated. The House could vacate the seat without waiting for a new elections board.

"The Democratic majority that has taken over today has been fairly clear they are not going to seat Mark Harris," political expert Michael Bitzer told WSOC TV Channel 9. Still, Harris' attorney said he's hopeful he will join his Congress soon. New members were sworn in on Thursday.

Some have called for a new election, which would have to be decided by a new elections board.

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"The election might wind up in November," said Gerry Cohen, former special counsel for the North Carolina General Assembly. "Obviously, people would like to have the vacant seat filled earlier. There's a lot of moving pieces."

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