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North Carolina GOP Wants Candidate In Congress Despite Probe

 In this Nov. 7, 2018, file photo, Mark Harris speaks to the media during a news conference in Matthews, N.C.
Chuck Burton

North Carolina Republicans said Monday that they want their candidate in a still-undecided U.S. House race marred by ballot fraud allegations to take his seat in Congress despite acknowledging a replacement election may be required.The state Republican Party and the 9th Congressional District GOP said the state elections board should immediately certify unofficial results showing Mark Harris with a narrow lead. The GOP groups said Harris should be sworn in in about two weeks if the elections board doesn't show that voting irregularities would have changed the outcome.

"We understand the investigation — which we fully support — may need more time, but it is unfair to the voters and Dr. Harris not to present significant public evidence for review before the new Congress convenes. A delay is acceptable in the resolution but only if substantial public evidence is presented immediately to justify it," the groups said in a statement.

North Carolina's Republican Party chairman said last week that a new election in the unresolved congressional race should be ordered if a Bladen County precinct worker's allegation that some early voting totals were improperly shared before Election Day is accurate. Providing such data to outsiders could help political campaigns with get-out-the-vote strategies.

"The people involved in this must be held accountable and, should it be true, this fact alone would likely require a new election," state Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said.

Hayes' comments came less than two weeks after he accused Democrats of "throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at the wall to try and steal an election" in the 9th District. Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in unofficial results.

Last week, the elections board postponed the meeting where it plans to go over the investigations into missing absentee ballots in Bladen County and whether unsealed ballots illegally handled by collection teams there could have been altered. The meeting is now scheduled for Jan. 11, eight days after Congress will convene for its next session.

Harris' campaign and a firm working as its chief strategist have been ordered by the state elections board to provide records.

"Counsel for subpoenaed parties have begun submitting responsive records, but they have uniformly indicated additional time is needed for review and production of additional materials," elections board chairman Josh Malcolm wrote last week in a letter citing those delays as requiring more time for the investigation.

Republicans have also asked for further scrutiny of voting irregularities going back to 2010 and urged Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to create a bipartisan task force to investigate irregularities pre-dating this year's election.

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