Election authorities in North Carolina ordered a new election Thursday for a disputed congressional race tainted by fraud accusations hours after the Republican candidate called for a new vote.
In a 5-0 decision, the North Carolina State Board of Elections approved a new election for the state’s 9th Congressional district.
Earlier in the day, the GOP candidate Mark Harris said a new election was needed, despite having apparently won the hotly-contested race last year. He made the statement after days of testimony in an election fraud hearing that has rocked the state.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the fundraising arm of House Democrats, quickly praised the board’s decision.
“No American should have to wonder whether the vote they cast is counted and counted fairly,” DCCC chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos, D- Illinois, said in a statement Thursday. “What we have seen unfold in North Carolina is an all-out assault on our fundamental American values, and Mark Harris is correct when he said that his actions have undermined North Carolinians’ faith in our election process. I am proud to stand on the side of Democracy and of fair elections for all Americans.”
Harris narrowly defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes in November, but a contractor working for Harris’ campaign, convicted felon Leslie McCrae Dowless, is accused of illegally collecting hundreds of absentee ballots during the race, throwing the true outcome into question.
McCready withdrew his concession to Harris amid charges his defeat was due to fraud.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation have since been probing allegations of election fraud in two counties. The state Board of Elections has twice declined to certify a winner in the 9th District.
Harris’ own son even testified during the hearing that he raised concerns early in the campaign after his father met with Dowless. John Harris described the contractor as a “shady” character, and testified that he had expressed his concerns to his father about Dowless illegally collecting ballots.
“I told him that collecting ballots was a felony and I would send him the statute that collecting ballots was felony,” the younger Harris said.
During the hearing, the elder Harris said he’s been struggling with recall and confusion due to medical illnesses such as strokes. He didn’t say whether he’d run in the new election.
CBS News’ David Begnaud contributed to this report.