A top North Carolina Republican official said Tuesday that a new election would "likely" be needed in the state's 9th Congressional District if new claims that Bladen County officials gave unnamed people improper, early access to early voting totals is true.
The accusation is the latest in mounting claims of malfeasance in the congressional race, where Republican Mark Harris had appeared to defeat Democrat Dan McCready. But the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement refused to certify the results and kept investigating instead.
Last week, the state election board released a copy of the election results tape printed at Bladen County's only in-person early vote location. Those preliminary results were tabulated the Saturday before the election, which violates state election law.
In an affidavit dated November 29 and distributed to media by North Carolina Democratic Party and other sources,an individual named Agnes Willis alleges that the tape “was run after the polls closed, and was viewed by officials at the one-stop site who were not [poll] Judges."
Willis, identified as a precinct worker by the Charlotte Observer, doesn’t name or describe the “officials” whom she claimed viewed the partial results data.
The election results tape document itself includes a signature for “Agnes Willis,” one of three signatures under a statement certifying the incomplete results as “a true and accurate account of the election held November 6, 2018.” Willis’ affidavit does not address that detail.
Robin Hayes, the chairman of the state Republican Party, blasted the potential leak of election data in a new statement that points to a new story in the Charlotte Observer, which includes the affidavit.
"We are extremely concerned that early voting totals may have been leaked in Bladen County as reported by The Charlotte Observer. This action by election officials would be a fundamental violation of the sense of fair play, honesty, and integrity that the Republican Party stands for," Hayes said.
"The people involved in this must be held accountable and should it be true, this fact alone would likely require a new election. Accessing early vote totals before the overall results are final can clearly give an unfair advantage to one candidate over the other."
In the statement, Hayes went onto argue that if there ultimately is a new election in the district, that the state election board should take control of election operations in Bladen County.
The allegation is just part of the election fraud allegations that have roiled the race and threatened to invalidate the results. Investigators are also looking into the ballot harvesting efforts of a man named Leslie McCrae Dowless, whose associates have been accused of improperly handling absentee ballots.
Dowless was hired as a contractor by the consulting firm that worked for Harris. That connection has prompted state Democratic leaders to call on Harris to give a full accounting of what he knew about the allegations dogging Dowless.
"McCrae Dowless has a long history of conducting absentee ballot fraud that was well documented. Yet Mark Harris still hired him,” North Carolina state Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said at a news conference in Raleigh Tuesday. “And now Harris refuses to answer several questions about their relationship.”