When the new Congress is sworn in after New Year's Day, North Carolina Republican Mark Harris won’t be able to take his seat at the Capitol.
That’s because the state board of elections hasn't certified the 9th District results and won't hold its public evidentiary hearing over fraud allegations until January 11.
Until the matters get resolved, constituents won’t have representation in Washington, D.C. at the start of 2019
On Monday, the Union County Board of Commissioners plans to push the issue. The group will vote on a resolution requesting the state board of elections to certify the 9th district results.
“The lack of certification is causing uncertainty for the residents of Union County regarding their representation in the United States House of Representatives in the 116th Congress beginning January 3, 2019,” the agenda stated.
It's been a tumultuous few weeks in Tar Heel State politics, with shocking twists and turns coming out of the 9th District nearly every day.
On Tuesday, the NCGOP called for a new election in the race between Harris and Democrat Dan McCready, saying there were reports someone in Bladen County leaked early voting totals before Election Day.
Harris beat McCready by 905 votes, but controversy over handling of absentee ballots, also in Bladen County, prompted the state board of elections to delay certification of the results. McCready subsequently rescinded his concession on December 6.
"I didn’t serve overseas in the Marines to come home to North Carolina and watch a criminal, bankrolled by my opponent, take away people’s very right to vote. Today, I withdraw my concession and call on Mark Harris to end his silence and tell us exactly what he knew, and when," McCready said in a video on Twitter.
On Wednesday, a man came forward claiming he saw the state election board's person of interest, Leslie McCrae Dowless, holding more than 800 absentee ballots in Bladen County during the campaign.
"While we were in Dublin attending a meeting of Republicans, we spoke with McRae Dowless," Kenneth Simmons said in an affidavit. "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."
On Thursday, NBC Charlotte learned a redo of the 9th District election could cost Mecklenburg County taxpayers thousands of dollars. County elections director Michael Dickerson said it would take about $2,500 to $3,000 per precinct.
“You got about 50 precincts in Mecklenburg County that are in the 9th District," Dickerson said. "So that’s about $150,000.”
Additionally, the cost of absentee ballots and staffing early voting locations is estimated to be another $50,000 to $100,000.
“So you could be up to $300,000 to $400,000 before you know it in the cost of running a new election," Dickerson said.
On Friday, a Washington Post story claimed Harris directed the hiring of Dowless, the man in the middle of the fraud investigation. The Post reported Harris was actually aware Dowless might have used questionable tactics involving absentee votes in previous elections.
During a taping NBC Charlotte’s "Flashpoint" that will air Sunday morning, political science professor Scott Huffmon from Winthrop University said if the Post story is true, Harris has some explaining to do.
"He went out of his way to seek the person who was in charge of that and personally hired them. I think that tells us all that he knew what was going on," said Huffmon.
Harris was in Concord Friday speaking at the Cabarrus County Republican Party Christmas Gala but did not talk to the media. He did, however, issue a statement back on December 7.
"My campaign and I are cooperating fully with the state board of elections investigations, and we will continue to do so. I trust the process that's underway just as I have always trusted the decision of the voters. I trust that this investigation will be full and complete, examining any alleged irregularities that could have benefited either party,” Harris said.
“If this investigation finds proof of illegal activity on either side to such a level that it could have changed the outcome of the election, then I would wholeheartedly support a new election to ensure all voters have confidence in the results,” he added.
“It’s time for Josh Malcolm to man up,” he said. “You cannot continue to move the goalpost. The longer this takes, the more disenfranchised voters of the 9th Congressional District, the people deserve to know exactly what is going on and what the process is going to be.”
The state board of elections originally voted 7-2 to hold the public evidentiary hearing on or before December 21, which would have been before the new Congress takes office.