Jason Hopkins on December 6, 2018
A Democratic congressional candidate in North Carolina took back his concession on Thursday as allegations of voter misconduct are leading people to believe an election redo may take place.
Dan McCready — the Democratic nominee in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District — had conceded the race one day after Election Day. The race was a nail biter, with McCready behind his Republican opponent, Mark Harris, by under 2,000 votes out of over 270,000 total votes cast.
However, a lot has changed since then.
As late ballots continued to roll in, McCready significantly closed the gap. As of publication of this article, the Democrat is now behind Harris by only 905 votes. But the closeness of the race isn’t what has attracted national media attention.
There are mounting questions over whether voter misconduct took place during the campaign. The allegations surround Leslie McCrae Dowless, a campaign operative hired by a consulting firm that did contract work for Harris’ campaign. Dowless is being accused of running an illegal ballot harvesting scheme in one of North Carolina’s rural counties, allegedly altering absentee ballots or collecting them from voters but never getting them turned in.
The allegations have prompted Democrats to call the election outcome illegitimate. The backlash came to a head on Thursday with McCready officially withdrawing his concession.
“I didn’t serve overseas in the Marines to come home to NC and watch a criminal, bankrolled by my opponent, take away people’s very right to vote,” McCready tweeted on Thursday. “Today I withdraw my concession and call on Mark Harris to end his silence and tell us exactly what he knew, and when.”
Dowless, for his part, has denied any wrongdoing. Harris, the Republican candidate, has said he supports any investigative efforts, but also adds that not enough votes are in question to alter the outcome of the election.
“Make no mistake, I support any efforts to investigate allegations of irregularities and/or voter fraud, as long as it is fair and focuses on all political parties,” Harris tweeted on Nov. 30. “There is absolutely no public evidence that there are enough ballots in question to affect the outcome of this race.”
Nevertheless, there is growing talk that officials may initiate a new election. Depending on what state and local prosecutors find in their investigation, the state elections board may call for a complete redo.
The situation has made this North Carolina House race the last undecided campaign in the country.
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