Donald Trump made a stark promise during the final days of the 2018 midterm election — he would aggressively prosecute any instances of voter fraud.
Trump and other Republicans made frequent allegations during the campaign that Democrats were trying to unfairly tilt the election, but offered no evidence of the election fraud to which they alluded. But now that a Republican political operative is facing accusations of a widespread election fraud in a North Carolina congressional race that narrowly went to the Republican, Trump has fallen silent.
In North Carolina, widespread accusations of election fraud in the Ninth Congressional District led the state’s bipartisan Board of Elections to vote unanimously not to certify the results of the election. As the New Yorker reported, there were widespread accusations of improper conduct related to absentee ballots, and two women have come forward to say they were paid by a political operative to pick up the ballots and to suggest to voters to select Republican candidates. Others reported nearly impossible statistical anomalies favoring the Republican candidate.
As the Charlotte Observer reported, the allegations point to Leslie McCrae Dowless, a longtime Republican operative who worked as an “independent contractor” for Republican candidate Mark Harris. Dowless has a felony fraud conviction in 1992 after taking out an insurance policy on a dead man and collecting $165,000, the report noted, and he was part of 2016 races that also had anomalies in absentee ballots.
A N.C. professor found Republican Mark Harris won 61% of Bladen Co. mail-in ballots—despite Repubs accounting for only 19% of returned absentee ballots. To achieve that, Harris needed to win all Repubs, almost every Independent, and a number of Dems. https://t.co/hQbMf6a8Xy— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 4, 2018
The suspicious circumstances have led to both Democrats and Republicans to call for an investigation, and polling expert Nate Silver said a new election is looking increasingly likely.
However, critics note that one important person has remained silent on the allegations — Donald Trump. He has not spoken out about the allegations, despite a clear call to come down hard on any “voter fraud” (a term that has been used to describe the allegations in North Carolina, though experts say that if true, it would amount to election fraud).
“All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING,” Trump wrote in October.
“Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!”
At the time, many accused Donald Trump of baseless accusations against Democrats in order to erode trust in them, and many of these critics have noted Trump’s silence on the new allegations facing a Republican. North Carolina officials have not yet said whether they will certify the results, or if a new election might be held.