RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) – Early voting results in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District were counted before the election ended, two poll workers told the state’s elections board on Tuesday in a hearing centered around questions of ballot fraud in the country’s last uncertified congressional contest.
Day two of the North Carolina State Board of Elections evidentiary hearing in Raleigh involving an absentee-ballot harvesting scheme in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District’s U.S. House race revealed that early voting results were tallied before November’s general election.
By the end of the days-long hearing, the board will either decide to seat Harris, or, four of the board’s five members – three Democrats and two Republicans – would need to agree to hold a new election.
On Tuesday, the state’s elections board heard from three poll workers from Bladen County, the rural area at the center of the investigation.
Addressing an alleged leak in early polling data in Bladen County, Michele Maultsby, an area poll worker said Tuesday that she never saw anyone view a tape that listed the voting results before the 2018 general election.
Poll workers Agnes Willis and Coy Mitchell Edwards, however, told the elections board later on Tuesday that early voting results for the race for Congress and for local sheriff were tallied on the Saturday before Election Day, before the polls were closed.
The poll workers who testified on Tuesday said they did not observe any third party access the results and state elections director Kim Strach said investigators did not find evidence that anyone else was prematurely informed about the totals.
Republican and former Baptist pastor Mark Harris holds a 905-vote lead over 9th District Democratic candidate Dan McCready in unofficial results for November’s general election, but the North Carolina Board of Elections refused to certify the race after allegations of absentee and mail-in ballot fraud involving Harris campaign operative McCrae Dowless surfaced.
Dowless, who is accused of paying people to harvest unsealed ballots and tampering with them, refused to testify on Monday without being granted immunity.
Tuesday’s hearing ended with a testimony from Andy Yates, who was the chief consultant for Harris’s campaign and the founder of the Red Dome group, a political strategy organization.
Lisa Britt, Dowless’s step-daughter, told the elections board on Monday that she believed Yates was aware of the alleged scheme.
Yates said on Tuesday that he would have fired Dowless immediately if he had known of any wrongdoing and that he had never heard of Dowless until Harris mentioned him in a conversation.
“It would have been over the moment I had the first suspicion,” he said.
It was Harris, Yates said, who had first worked with Dowless to develop a political strategy in Bladen County.
Yates said he initially thought the unusual number of absentee votes that went for Harris in the general election was little more than the result of successful campaign strategies and excellent targeting of potential Harris voters.
“After yesterday, I don’t know what to believe about McCrae Dowless,” he said.
Board of Elections Chairman Bob Cordle said at the end of Tuesday’s hearing that “it is starting to look like” the hearing will continue into Thursday.