A man is now swearing he saw the state election board's person of interest holding more than 800 absentee ballots in Bladen County during North Carolina's 9th Congressional District campaign, according to a newly signed affidavit.
This comes as lawmakers pave the way for both a possible special general and primary election in District 9.
"While we were in Dublin attending a meeting of Republicans, we spoke with McRae Dowless," Kenneth Simmons said in an affidavit signed Tuesday. "During the conversation, we noticed that Mr. Dowless had in his possession a large number of absentee ballots. I questioned his reason for having that many ballots. He stated that he had over 800 ballots in his possession."
Simmons said he asked Dowless why he hadn't turned them in.
"He (stated) you don't do that until the last day because the opposition would know how many votes they had to make up," Simmons said. "My concern was that these ballots were not going to be turned in."
Simmons' words came a day before the North Carolina General Assembly approved a bill that would require a new primary if the North Carolina State Board of Elections asks for a new general election.
Dowless' alleged behavior continues to be the subject of a state election board investigation that has grabbed national attention.
The allegations alone prompted Democrat Dan McCready, who unofficially lost by 905 votes, to rescind his concession to Republican Mark Harris, but that's not the only behavior raising concerns.
The North Carolina Republican Party called for a new election yesterday after suggesting someone in Bladen County leaked early voting totals before the general election. That claim is backed up by an affidavit signed by an election worker there who called what she witnessed "improper."
While Harris' future as unofficial winner hangs in the balance, McCready is gearing up his fundraising in anticipation of round two. Meanwhile, outgoing Congressman Robert Pittenger (R), NC-9, is keeping tabs as well.
That said, Pittenger, who lost to Harris in the primary, said he's focused on the terrorism and security forums he planned for next year.
"Just last week, he hosted over 300 Members of Parliament from 80 countries for a Forum in DC, and world leaders are actively engaging him about future events," his spokesperson said in a statement. "He is currently evaluating the latest 9th District news just like everyone else."
If there is a new primary and general election, only a fraction of county voters in Mecklenburg County will get to participate since District 9 only makes up 50 out of 125 precincts, according to Mecklenburg County Board of Elections Public Information Manager Kristin Mavromatis.
Mavromatis said the board is now waiting on direction from Raleigh, which won't come until after an evidentiary hearing. That hearing is supposed to take place before December 21, but a recent court order allows the current board to remain intact through December 28 to allow for more time to investigate.
If a new election is ordered, no date has been scheduled. Mavromatis said absentee ballots will impact an election date. Officials are required to mail out absentee ballots at least 45 days before a federal election.
"There is precedent to change that, so they could shorten it, but there would have to be legislation to do that," she said.