A North Carolina Republican caught in the middle of a voter suppression scandal called on Thursday for a new election in a disputed 2018 congressional race in which he was initially declared the winner.
Mark Harris’ statement came while the North Carolina State Board of Elections was hearing evidence this week on whether a Republican voter fraud scheme tainted the outcome in the 9th Congressional District where Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in unofficial returns.
“I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said Thursday at the public hearing. “It’s become clear to me that public confidence in the 9th District has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.”
On Monday, a political operative working for Harris admitted to election officials that she illegally picked up and falsified absentee ballots as part of the scheme to help him steal the 2018 midterm election, CNN reported.
African-Americans were among the victims of the fraud.
Harris was fighting off the Democratic wave in his district to keep a congressional seat that Republicans held for more than half a century. He had a 905-vote lead over McCready after the ballots were counted in the ninth district race, but the state board of elections declined to certify Harris as the winner because of absentee balloting irregularities.
Election officials and witnesses said that the scheme may have involved more than 1,000 absentee ballots or request forms. Republican operatives were accused of forging signatures, completing ballots and mailing them from post offices near the voter’s home.
Lisa Britt, a felon who had illegally cast her own ballot, admitted on the witness stand on Monday that she illegally collected between 35 and 40 absentee ballots in violation of state law. A consulting firm working for Harris paid her at least $150 per 50 absentee ballots she collected.
Britt denied changing any votes, and the attorney representing Harris downplayed what effect the scheme had on the election results. However, civil rights advocates rejected that claim.
“Attorney for Mark Harris, the candidate who benefited from this scheme, is now cross examining Lisa Britt. The attorney trying to suggest this is no big deal b/c the ballots that Britt took belonged to Republicans. This is FALSE. Black & Native American voters were most impacted,” tweeted Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.