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Hearing set Feb. 18 on 9th District congressional election

Associated Press

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s new elections board will hear evidence later this month about alleged ballot fraud as it seeks to resolve the nation’s last unsettled congressional race.

The five-member State Board of Elections, created last week, said Monday it will hold a Feb. 18 public hearing to weigh evidence collected by investigators and arguments from representatives of Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.

The hearing could last two days.

The new board could declare a winner or order a new 9th District election.

Harris leads McCready by about 900 votes, according to uncertified results from November’s election.

The previous elections board refused to declare the Republican a winner until investigators could look into allegations that mail-in ballots in Bladen County may have been altered or discarded by a subcontractor for the Harris campaign.

Also Monday, the state Senate agreed unanimously on nominees to fill four of eight seats on the reconstituted State Ethics Commission.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will pick the other four.

A separate Ethics Commission was in place for decades until the legislature tried in 2016 to combine its duties with the State Board of Elections Board. Courts struck down the combined panel’s composition, leading to separate boards regrouping starting Jan. 31.

The Republican nominees for the Ethics Commission include former N.C. House Speaker Carl Stewart of Gaston County, who served in the late 1970s. Others are state Sen. Shirley Randleman of Wilkes County, former state Rep. Roger West of Cherokee County and former Shaw University President Clarence Newsome.

The state House still must approve these appointments.

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