Other voices: Congress must take action in 9th District
Two weeks into this new session of Congress and we’re no closer to knowing who will represent North Carolina’s 9th District in the House of Representatives.
Nor do we know who will make the final call on how the seat will be filled or who will fill it. Will it be the state’s board of elections, which will come back to life at the end of this month? Will it be the U.S. House of Representatives, which has the constitutional authority to determine who will be seated? Or will it be the voters choosing in a new election, and possibly even a new primary?
Any of those outcomes could decide an election marred and perhaps hopelessly compromised by allegations of tampering and illegal handling of absentee ballots in Bladen County, and possibly in other counties as well. The ostensible winner, Republican Mark Harris, clings to the notion that he won a narrow victory and if there was tampering, it wasn’t extensive enough to overturn what initially was recorded as a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready.
But Harris, and state Republican leaders, make that assertion without a complete probe of the election to prove their point. The state’s election board staff continues to probe what went on during the election. The U.S. Department of Justice, we’ve learned recently, has known about absentee ballot irregularities in parts of the 9th District since the 2016 elections, but it doesn’t appear to have done any investigation, which is surprising and disappointing.
We hope that’s about to change. And it may be Congress that can make that happen. On Friday, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who chairs the House Administration Committee, asked North Carolina elections officials to secure all information it gathers in its investigation. Lofgren’s committee would make the call on a congressional investigation.
In a sworn affidavit state elections officials released Friday, Bladen Board of Elections Chairman Bobby Ludlum said several absentee ballot request forms submitted before the November election were forged. But he also said he is “not aware of anyone in Bladen County ever throwing ballots in the trash or stating that they have thrown absentee ballots of any type of ballot in the trash.”
Ultimately, it will be up to Congress to determine whether Mark Harris should be seated or if there should be a new election. That’s why we hope Congress will quickly take the reins and order a full federal probe. It’s clear that there were irregularities in both the primary and the November election. Let’s get it all documented and resolved, and get the 9th District a representative in Congress.
— The Fayetteville Observer
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