Democrat Dan McCready has withdrawn his Nov. 7 concession in the race for North Carolina's 9th District and is demanding his opponent "tell us exactly what he knew, and when" regarding absentee ballot irregularities. Republican Mark Harris leads McCready by 905 votes in unofficial returns a month after polls closed, though the state board of elections has declined to certify the results as it investigates a contractor who worked for Harris' campaign. Previously convicted of perjury and insurance fraud, Leslie McCrae Dowless is alleged to have hired people to encourage low-income voters in Bladen County to cast absentee ballots, which were returned to him, not the state, in violation of North Carolina law, reports the Charlotte Observer. Investigators are looking into allegations that ballots were tampered with or perhaps not turned in to the state at all.
Concerns were similarly raised and possibly ignored earlier when Harris' primary opponent, Robert Pittenger, received 17 absentee mail-in votes in Bladen County compared to 437 for Harris, reports the Washington Post. "Dowless' efforts were widely known, and we did share our concerns," Pittenger says, though the National Republican Congressional Committee denies receiving reports of fraud. On Thursday, McCready said, "I didn't serve overseas in the Marines just to come home to NC and watch a criminal, bankrolled by my opponent, take away people's very right to vote." Top House Democrats say they will refuse to seat Harris until the issue is resolved, which may require a new election. State Republicans first want to see "overwhelming" evidence that fraud changed the outcome of the vote. (Read more Election 2018 stories.)