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Ballot envelopes seized from Bladen County Board of Elections

By Erin Smith

Several absentee ballot envelopes and request forms were seized from the Bladen County Board of Elections Office. The NC State Board of Elections in Raleigh says they are looking into voting irregularities in the US House 9th Congressional District.

In addition, in a surprise move on Tuesday afternoon (November 27th), the NC State Board of Elections in Raleigh refused to certify the US House District 9 race, involving Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. According to a release from NC State Board of Elections Spokesman Patrick Gannon, “In his motion, Board Vice Chairman Joshua Malcolm cited the Board’s authority under G.S. 163A-1180 as the reason for delaying certification of that contest.”

The NC State Board of Elections Chief investigator Joan Fleming paid a visit to the Bladen County Board of Elections Office recently and seized mail-in absentee envelopes.

Bobby Ludlum, Chairman of the Bladen County Board of Elections, said he did not know the exact number of envelopes seized but did say, “It was several.”

Ludlum explained that the information contained on the absentee ballot envelope contains the voter’s name and information, and the signatures of the two witnesses. He said there is a third option a voter can use and have their ballot envelope notarized rather than having two witnesses sign.

Ludlum stressed none of the actual ballots cast during the election were seized.

He said he does not know the exact nature of the investigation or exactly what type of information investigators are seeking.

“We got a two hour notice that this was going to take place,” said Ludlum. “They told us what they wanted, we supplied it and they gave us a receipt.”

He continued, “We have not been told anything (regarding the investigation).”

The Bladen County Board of Elections conducted their vote canvass on November 16th and no protests or requests for a recount were filed. The locally certified results were sent to Raleigh. reached out to NC State Board of Elections Spokesman Patrick Gannon in an attempt to learn more about the investigation.

Gannon said, “The State Board is investigating potential irregularities involving absentee ballots in the 9th Congressional District. The statute cited by the board in delaying the certification of that contest (G.S. 163A-1180) does not include a deadline or time frame for certification. State Board members are mindful that new members of Congress are expected to be sworn in, in early January.”

When asked about whether or not the State Board of Elections had received a protest, Gannon said, “No. The State Board has the authority under law to delay certification to “take any other action necessary to assure that an election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption and without irregularities that may have changed the result of an election.”

The US House District 9 includes part or all of Bladen, Cumberland, Robeson, Scotland, Rockingham, Richmond, Anson, Union and Mecklenburg counties.

According to unofficial results published on the NC State Board of Elections, in the US House District 9 race Republican Mark Harris received 139,246 votes, Democrat Dan McCready received 138,341, and Libertarian Jeff Scott received 5,130 votes.

In Bladen County, Harris received 5,413 votes, McCready received 3,856 votes and Scott received 129 votes.

No further details have been released regarding the nature of the investigation or what prompted the seizure of the envelopes.

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