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So now there is chaos in North Carolina, with the Ninth District race still uncalled and the new Congress being sworn in next week. We’re really not sure what happens next. Michael Bitzer, a well-regarded political observer in the state, was himself at a bit of a loss for words.
Harris, who was ahead by 900 votes in the Election Day tally, had urged the state board to certify the results of his win over Democrat Dan McCready. But the outgoing board had refused to certify his win because of evidence that absentee ballots had been tampered with in the Ninth District. The No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said Friday that Harris would not be seated given the “well-documented” allegations of election fraud. New members are supposed to be sworn in on January 3.
The court case that killed the board has nothing to do with the Ninth District controversy. Read Bitzer’s blog post for a fuller history, but the short version is this: Republicans, having lost the governorship to Democrat Roy Cooper in 2016, passed legislation in a lame-duck session that, among other things, changed the make-up of the elections board (from one that gave the governor a partisan advantage to one that is evenly divided) in a bid to curb Cooper’s power.
A series of court challenges has found the board, and subsequent versions of it, unconstitutional, though the current board was still allowed in place to oversee the 2018 midterms. But the state court found it unconstitutional again, even as professional staff continue the inquiry into the Ninth District election, and ruled Friday that it must disband.