RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) – After unanimously deciding a new race was needed in light of ballot-fraud accusations, the North Carolina Board of Elections voted Monday to hold a primary election for the 9th Congressional District seat in May with a general election to follow in either September or November.
The primary will be held on May 14. If a runoff primary is needed, that will fall on Sept. 10, which would be the date of the general election if there is no runoff. In the event of a runoff primary, the general election would be held Nov. 5.
The bipartisan Board of Elections voted unanimously Feb. 21 to hold a new election for the still undecided 9th District race after the apparent Republican winner, Mark Harris, called for a redo in light of mounting evidence of an illegal absentee-ballot harvesting scheme.
That decision came four days into an evidentiary hearing over accusations that a Harris campaign operative hired people to collect unsealed ballots door-to-door in two rural counties.
Harris, who had an apparent 905-vote lead in the November election over Democrat Dan McCready, announced last week he will not be running again, saying he needs to undergo surgery. His statement did not mention the ballot scandal.
During the evidentiary hearing, Harris had reversed course and called for a new election, saying he did not know about or condone the alleged illegal activities carried out by McCrae Dowless. Witnesses testified to being paid for collecting unsealed absentee ballots and two Bladen County poll workers said they counted polling results early.
“It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted,” Harris said at the hearing.
In his statement saying he will not run again, Harris endorsed Union County commissioner Stony Rushing for the seat.
The following day, Feb. 27, Dowless was arrested after being indicted on charges of election fraud during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.
Harris’ former Democratic opponent, McCready, is a candidate in the new election.
Also running for the 9th District seat is Libertarian candidate Jeff Scott, who told Courthouse News that he hopes he will garner more votes than he did in the previous election. Scott had no further comment concerning the alleged election fraud scheme that took place last year.
In a tweet, McCready said the greatest tragedy to emerge from the controversy is “people questioning our elections system. Young people wondering if their vote still matters.”
While campaigning a few hours south of the 9th District in South Carolina last week, Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney, a former Maryland congressman, told Courthouse News that the decision to hold a new election should restore voters’ faith in the system.
Party filing for the new election will begin next Monday.