Mark Harris announces he will not run after accusations of ballot tampering
Republican Mark Harris announced yesterday that he will not run in the new election for a seat in North Carolina’s Ninth District. The state called for the new election after accusing Harris’ campaign of tampering with absentee ballots.
Junior Cole Branham, the president of the Xavier University College Republicans, said, “I believe that any time there are reports or evidence found that fraud has played a role in an election, it should be thoroughly investigated. No matter the party, a candidate has to run, play and win fair and square throughout their campaign.” Branham believes this incident “doesn’t reflect upon the Republican Party as a whole,” but he expressed his disappointment, saying, “as a Republican, of course I am frustrated to see a case of election fraud in any candidate.” The incident was brought to trial two weeks ago.
Leslie McCrae Dowless, the man in charge of voter turnout for Harris, is accused of a heavily financed illegal voter turnout effort. He is suspected of orchestrating an absentee ballot scheme to sway the race in favor of the Republican candidate. Workers who assisted in the scheme delivered damning testimony of unlawful collection, false witnessing and other forms of ballot tampering.
Harris denied knowing of any wrongdoing in this area of his campaign. His statements appeared to mislead the board. Harris later apologized, blaming two strokes that impaired his memory
His son John Harris testified that he had warned his father about Dowless, saying, “I expressed my concerns based on everything I did know up to that point.” He finalized his statement with kind words to his parents, expressing he had no vendetta against them and that his father wanted to see the good in Dowless.
His testimony brought Harris to tears. He later admitted that his son was right but he did not see it at the time.
After days of dramatic testimony, Harris told the board, ,“It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the Ninth District’s general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.”
Last November, Harris appeared to defeat Democratic opponent Dan McCready by 905 ballots in the U.S. House election.
Harris won by less than one percent, with 49.2 percent of ballots over McCready’s 48.9 percent. 61 percent of absentee ballots were for Harris, although Republicans accounted for 19 percent of absentee voters. This was a cause of alarm.
An election board of five members made a unanimous decision for new elections.
With evidence of fraud, the North Carolina election board refused to certify Harris’s win over McCready.
This was the only undecided House contest in last year’s midterm election. It has been uncalled for the last three months, and there is still no representative for the district in the House.
By: Sierra Ross | Staff Writer