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US House may ultimately decide winner of District 9 race

By Erin Smith

A letter sent to the NC State Board of Elections from a US House member indicates Congress may step in and resolve the disputed US House District 9 race. 

Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California, is the Chairperson for the Committee on House Administration. She sent a letter to NC State Board of Elections Director Kimberly Strach on Friday requesting the board preserve all of their notes and other investigative materials regarding alleged ballot fraud and irregularities in the 9th Congressional District. Lofgren’s letter indicated the US House my undertake its own investigation into the matter. 

Lofgren writes, “Pursuant to Clause 1 (k) of House Rule X, the Committee on House Administration (hereafter “this Committee”) has jurisdiction over the following: “Election of the President, Vice President, Members, Senators, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner; corrupt practices; contested elections; credentials and qualifications; and Federal elections generally.” 

“The Committee is acutely aware of its responsibilities and rights concerning the eventual seating of House Members in disputed or vacant seats. It is within the realm of possibility that the House may become involved in the determination of the rightful claimant to the seat for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District and may, under stated authority, proceed to investigate the matter on its own.”

“This Committee, on behalf of the House, therefore requests that you preserve, in original form, all documents and records received pursuant to subpoenas issued by the State Board of Election and any other records or documents transmitted to your office by law enforcement, other prosecutorial entities or any interested parties regarding this investigation and the resolution of this matter. This includes but is not limited to all notes, transcripts, recordings or any other materials internally produced, procured, or secured from outside sources regarding any entities involved in or peripheral to the investigation and resolution of North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District’s House seat.”

Lofgren also seeks information from Strach regarding the procedures the NC State Elections Board utilizes to preserve material and evidence as it pertains to the investigation. 

According to unofficial results posted on the NC State Board of Elections website, Republican candidate Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. No protests or complaints were filed with the County or State Board of Election regarding the election. 

The NC State Board of Elections has identified McCrae Dowless as a person of interest in the investigation.

Sworn affidavits on file with the NC State Board of Elections indicate an effort to gather absentee ballots in unsealed envelopes.  

In an affidavit from Bladen County Board of Elections Chairman Bobby Ludlum, he indicates that, “No Bladen County citizen or other individual has, to my knowledge, ever been given special access to information held by the Bladen County Board of Elections, such as requests for absentee ballots or election results. Our staff provides requested public information as required by law to all citizens.”

Ludlum’s statement also indicates that security for the Bladen County Board of Elections was not “lax” and “About two to three weeks before the general election, we discovered that three (3) of the forms were forged. One of the three was for a relative of mine who told me that two women had asked if he wanted to request a form. He said no. Our elections staff reported the information to the State Board of Elections staff and requested instructions on how to proceed.”

An evidentiary hearing regarding the matter has been postponed until a new Board of Elections panel is seated. 

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