The 2018 midterm elections may not be over just yet.
As allegations of election fraud continue to mount in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, polling expert Nate Silver said that he believes a new election has become “fairly likely” and has moved the district’s designation from “lean Republican” to “toss-up.” Amid reports of stark discrepancies in absentee ballots and claims that political operatives connected to the Republican candidate may have filled out some voter absentee ballots for voters, the state’s bipartisan Board of Elections voted unanimously not to certify the results, which had Republican Mark Harris beat Democrat Dan McCready by a margin of 905 votes.
As the New Yorker reported, some voters reported that a person showed up at their door to collect absentee ballots. When one voter told the young woman at the door that she only filled out two races, the woman “stated the [other races] were not important” and then offered to fill out the ballot herself, a violation of North Carolina law. Many other voters reported strange discrepancies and filled out signed affidavits about the apparent violations, the report noted.
“These affidavits, which were first reported by the Charlotte TV station WSOC, contain the following allegations: a woman going door to door saying ‘she was assigned to the district to collect absentee ballots’; one instance of an unrequested absentee ballot arriving at a voter’s house; ‘improper’ election monitoring at a polling site; unusual ‘coding’ on absentee ballots; and two men separately saying that they overheard people talking about payments to a local political operative working for the Republican candidate, Mark Harris,” the report noted.
As the Charlotte Observer noted, many of the allegations appear to go back to Leslie McCrae Dowless, who worked as an “independent contractor” for Republican candidate Mark Harris. Dowless has worked for a number of politicians on get-out-the-vote efforts, state records showed, but has also gotten in trouble with the law. He has a felony fraud conviction in 1992 after taking out an insurance policy on a dead man and collecting $165,000, the report noted.
In an affidavit submitted to the Democratic Party, fire investigator Dwight Sheppard said Dowless is at the center of the election fraud allegations, though Dowless denied the allegations to the Charlotte Observer.
UPDATE: Lisa Britt, who was the witness for 44 mail-in abstentee ballots in Bladen County North Carolina, is the step-daughter of Leslie McCrae Dowless, the man at the center of the controversy who has previously been convicted of felony fraud https://t.co/4nvpnzVIXJ— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) December 3, 2018
The other thing about the alleged (do I have to keep saying "alleged" when it isn't in much doubt?) election fraud in NC-9 is just how obvious and sloppy it is. Or at least, obvious and sloppy given that NC keeps really detailed records on absentee ballots and other stuff.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) December 4, 2018
It was not clear what will happen next in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, but a number of other pundits have joined Nate Silver in suggesting that that state will need to hold a new election.