Travis Long / The News & Observer
The third day of a hearing was to go to the bottom of a mail-order ballot during the race in the US House still undecided in the ninth district of North Carolina, all eyes were riveted on the Republican Mark Harris, and when he would testify what he knew when.
The investigation focuses on a political agent, McCrae Dowless, hired by Harris to vote in the eastern district, on the outskirts of Charlotte, along the state's southern border.
During the hearing before the North Carolina State Elections Council, many women reported being paid by Dowless for the collection of ballots, which is illegal in the United States. State. One woman, Lisa Britt, testified that she had also participated in some vote-abolition races that voters had left blank when collecting their ballots, which is also contrary to law.
Harris has publicly stated on several occasions that he knew nothing of the illegal activities being carried out in the name of his campaign. It is certain that he will be tested on this point if he testifies, what his campaign says he is ready to do.
Dowless declined to testify Monday unless the state's election board grants him immunity from prosecution for his testimony. Chairman Robert Cordle stated that the board was not prepared to grant this immunity.
Political advisor Andy Yates, who testified on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, played the role of intermediary between Dowless and Harris throughout the primary and general election campaign.
Even though Harris hired Dowless before Yates' consulting firm was hired to help the campaign in 2017, Mr. Yates said it was incumbent upon him to pay Dowless and contact him about the voting efforts. by correspondence in Bladen County.
Yates paid Dowless more than $ 100,000 throughout the campaign, but said he thought the money was only used to register voters and encourage them to cast their ballots. Yates said Dowless had repeatedly promised to never handle ballots with his team.
"I specifically asked him if he had told his workers [not to touch ballots], "Yates said, Tuesday afternoon." I knew it was the big no-no with the mail ballots. "
Yates said that before Harris introduced him to Dowless, he had told him that he had a criminal background involving "minor charges" related to a divorce more than two decades ago. Yates said that he had been looking for Google in the hands of Dowless before meeting and that he had come to know of these charges, but that he had not been aware of them. charges of fraud related to the crime that Dowless had also faced.
Yates also said he did not hear about the news of Dowless's unsavory electoral tactics, including documentation that Dowless was paying people for ballot collection in 2016.
Harris will certainly be questioned about knowing he's been warned by other Dowless State politicians and about the type of background check that he or his campaign staff have performed on Dowless.
The State Elections Council may call new elections if "irregularities or irregularities have occurred to such an extent that they alter the results of an election and cast doubt on its fairness".
The question of whether Harris was aware of the illegal operation that would have led investigators and witnesses to say that Dowless was at the heart of the question of whether the irregularities provided the committee with sufficient evidence to question the Election, fairness.
Many questions about whether the law requires new elections even though there is no evidence that Harris' margin would have been canceled due to a fraud. Here's the NC law about it pic.twitter.com/bPzgWYMKBK
– Miles Parks (@MilesParks) February 20, 2019
Representatives of the Republican State continue to press for Harris to be certified.
At the hearing, Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of North Carolina's political operations group, carries a whiteboard listing the number of ballots that witnesses said were manipulated or suspected. That number is not yet close to Harris' 905 margin of votes in the race.
"In the end, if the board lost a margin of 905 votes, over 100 votes, it would be unprecedented and I think it would be dangerous," said Woodhouse. "The calculation seems favorable right now [to Harris]. "
The investigators, however, reported that Dowless and his associates had submitted more than 1,000 correspondence requests in the ninth district.
Earlier Tuesday, testimonials also focused on the administration of elections in the district. Agnes Willis, an employee of the polling station, testified that a number of them had misjudged that early voting resulted in at least one race, even though these results were not to be expected. be compiled before polling day. Questions arise as to whether these results were shared with people involved in political campaigns.