CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A prominent member of Congress called for an emergency hearing on fraud allegations coming out of North Carolina's 9th Congressional District.
Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly, one of the senior Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the meeting should be held this session, with Republicans still in control of the House.
The controversy centered around irregularities among mail-in absentee ballots. NBC Charlotte confirmed the state board of elections subpoenaed a GOP consulting group based in Cornelius on Wednesday.
The Red Dome Group reportedly hired the man accused of leading the scheme to collect absentee ballots in Bladen County. The political consulting firm was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Republican Mark Harris.
Harris won the race by just 905 votes, but officials have chosen not to certify the results in light of allegations that Red Dome workers used fraudulent tactics to collect, alter, or possibly discard absentee mail-in ballots.
"I pray to God they get to the bottom of it," said Emma Shipman.
Shipman said a woman came to her Bladen County house and took her absentee ballot before she could seal it or have anyone witness it.
Datesha Montgomery claimed the same thing happened to her.
"I thought it was a volunteer, but it wasn't," said Montgomery. "Come to find out she never sealed it or turned it in."
Cheryl Kinlaw said she was paid to collect ballots.
"We did not know it was illegal to pick them up," said Kinlaw.
Kinlaw said she was hired by McCrae Dowless, the convicted felon at the center of the fraud investigation, who was recruited by Red Dome.
"He would put gas in our car, and it was a little bit of money," Kinlaw said. "Once I dropped them off at his office, we assumed they were putting them in the mail."
The investigation could lead to charges or even a new election.
"In the 16 years of studying North Carolina politics in depth, I'm not sure I can point to a modern incident at the federal level of something like this," said Michael Bitzer, political science professor at Catawba College. "When you're talking about a U.S. House of Representatives election, this is critical for the governance of the state and the country."