North Carolina election officials apparently were worried about people unlawfully taking mail-in absentee ballots from residents of one county and filling them out this fall.
The state elections board released some documents Tuesday related to its investigation of alleged absentee ballot fraud in Bladen County, which includes part of the 9th Congressional District. The board declined last week to certify the results favoring Republican Mark Harris because of its investigation. The allegationsin the North Carolina district have thrown the Election Day results of one of the nation's last unresolved midterm congressional races into question.
The board sent letters in late October and early November warning people who had requested absentee ballots that only the voter or a near relative can mail a completed ballot or take it to the county elections board. In affidavits offered by the state Democratic Party, voters described a woman coming to their homes to collect absentee ballots, whether or not they had been completed properly. State law bars this kind of "harvesting" of absentee ballots.
Unofficial ballot totals showed Harris ahead of Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the 9th Congressional District. But the state elections board refused to certify the results last week in view of "claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities" involving mail-in ballots in the district.
The elections board has subpoenaed documents from the Harris campaign, a campaign attorney confirmed Tuesday. Investigators seem to be concentrating on activities linked to a longtime political operative from Bladen County, where allegations about mail-in absentee ballots also surfaced two years ago during a tight election for governor.