A state judge in North Carolina has declined to certify election results in the 9th Congressional District, quoting state election officials' authority to delay certification while they continue to investigate allegations of election fraud
In a court hearing in Raleigh on Tuesday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway ruled against Republican Mark Harris, who leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in unofficial results from Nov. 6 election
The State Board of Elections voted not to certify the results after the accusations of election fraud in the 9th District, a rural swath of farmland and small towns that stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville along the South Carolina border. 19659005] A lawyer for Harris argued that the state board had not provided evidence that the fraud was widespread enough to affect the outcome. Harris has said the investigation should continue but argued that he should be seated in the meantime
Lawyers for the state board and for McCready argued that enough ballots are under review to call the margin into question. Marc Elias, a Washington-based election law attorney who represents Democratic political committees and candidates, has argued for McCready that there is nothing in North Carolina law that calls for the investigation to be completed by a certain date
Ridgeway suggested in court that he he was reluctant to intervene in a matter that falls under the authority of another branch of government.
At issue are accusations that a political operative hired by Harris to run his absentee-ballot program illegally collected mail-in ballots from voters .
The lawyer for the state board noted that the nine-member board – made up of four Republicans, four Democrats and others, one unffiliated voter – had voted unanimously not to certify the 9th District results.
Further complicating the investigation is the fact that the State Board of Elections was disbanded in December following a court ruling earlier in the year that found the board's makeup unconstitutional.
The board is expected to be reconstituted on Jan.
Even if Ridge had ordered the board's staff to certify the results, it was not clear that Harris would have been welcomed to the Congress.