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Newly named Board of Elections will consider contested 9th District

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Nearly three months after the general election, North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District still does not have a representative seated in Congress. 

The state's new Board of Elections will decide if it is necessary to hold a new election in the district. Governor Roy Cooper named five members to the State Board of Elections Thursday, including Democrats Bob Cordle of Charlotte, Stella Anderson of Boone and Jeff Carmon of Durham as well as Republicans David Black of Concord and Ken Raymond of Winston Salem.

"The appointments come while the State Board continues to investigate absentee voting irregularities in the 9th Congressional District," a news release stated Thursday. "The Board is expected to hold an evidentiary hearing in February to decide whether to certify a winner or to order a new election. "

Harris defeated incumbent Robert Pittenger in May 2018 in the Republican primary. In the November midterm elections, initial tallies suggested Harris was led his Democratic counterpart Dan McCready, Trinity '05, by less than 1,000 votes.

But an N.C. state judge declined to certify Harris due to allegations of election fraud against one of Harris’ campaign contractors. It was alleged that the contractor, L. McCrae Dowless Jr., mishandled absentee ballots. 

There will be a hearing on the allegations, after which the board will vote on whether to certify Harris or to order a new election, Cordle said in an interview with The Charlotte Observer. The date of the hearing is undecided. 

“North Carolinians deserve fair and honest elections, and I am confident this board will work to protect our electoral process,” Cooper said in a statement

The board will serve through April 30, 2023, or until successors are appointed and qualified, according to Session Law 2018-146.

According to WCNC, of the five board members, Cordle is an attorney from Charlotte. Anderson is a management professor at Appalachian State University and a former Chair of the Watauga County Board of Elections. Carmon is an attorney from Durham. Black served as chair of the Cabarrus County Board of Elections and Raymond is a freelance writer and former chair of the Forsyth County Board of Elections. 

The board also is working to implement new voter identification requirements, part of the new voter ID mandate to the N.C. constitution that voters passed in the midterm elections. The requirements will take effect for the 2019 municipal elections, unless otherwise directed by the courts.

“We congratulate the new board members and look forward to working with them to promote confidence in North Carolina elections,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, State Board executive director in a news release. “We thank them for their willingness to serve North Carolina’s voters at this critical time.”

Editor's note: This article was updated Friday morning with an updated map of the 9th district. 

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