Tuesday, 22 January 2019 16:06

Judge denies request to certify 9th District election results

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RALEIGH — The 9th Congressional District will continue to go without representation in Washington throughout the rest of the month after a Wake County Superior Court judge denied a request to certify Mark Harris as the winner of November's election.

Following arguments Tuesday morning, Judge Paul Ridgeway said (in a video by WTVD) “...certification is not appropriate until the investigation into the protest is concluded by final decision.” 

Ridgeway added that the dissolution of the N.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement did not halt the investigation into claims of ballot farming on behalf the the Harris campaign. 

“The investigation into the grounds of the protest have continued — uninterrupted — despite the absence of a board and the petitioner himself has been involved in that investigation through interviews and document production since Dec. 28, 2018,” the judge said. 

A new Board of Elections, which won’t be established until Jan. 31, “will be in the best position to weigh the factual and legal issues associated with this pending protest,” Ridgeway added.

Harris’ campaign announced Monday that he would not be in court for Tuesday’s hearing due to illness.

While there is no current board, state elections investigators “continue to thoroughly investigate irregularities, including absentee-by-mail voting irregularities” and “... are preparing for a public evidentiary hearing to give North Carolina voters a full picture of the issues that affected that contest,” according to a statement issued Tuesday in response to the judge’s decision. “Only after a full hearing on the record will State Board members be able to make an informed decision on whether to certify a winner or order a new election.”

Current results show Harris leading Democratic opponent Dan McCready by 905 votes.

According to WTVD, Harris’ attorney argued that the board should have certified his client weeks ago.

"He has asked for the investigation to go out. He wants it out to clear his name,” attorney Alex Dale told WTVD. “Instead, we have been under a cloak of secrecy over what's being on, and it's outside of the statutory framework for certification."

Republican Party leaders seem undeterred by the judge’s decision.

"Nothing about today’s court hearing changes the fact that Congressman-Elect Dr. Mark Harris won the election,” GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement. “He received more legal votes and no public evidence has shown the outcome is in doubt. We are confident that Dr. Harris will be certified by the new State Board and will be seated in Washington."

Congress was sworn in Jan. 3.

State Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement that Democrats have been constant in supporting a full investigation into Harris’ “efforts to silence voters” across the district.

“We are pleased that Harris’ frivolous request has been denied and that North Carolina can get back to investigating allegations of systematic electoral fraud committed on behalf of Harris’ campaign,” Goodwin continued. “Only a full, public investigation can begin to repair the damage Mark Harris and North Carolina Republicans have inflicted on our state and our voters.”