Three days of hearings into allegations of Republican ballot fraud will conclude Wednesday as North Carolina's elections board decides what to do about the vacancy in the state's 9th congressional district, which stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville.
The House seat has been empty since Congress convened in January because the board declined to certify the 2018 election results, which showed a 905-vote victory for Republican Mark Harris. Accusations surfaced soon after the election that Leslie McCrae Dowless, an operative hired by GOP campaign consultants, orchestrated a scheme to collect absentee ballots from unwitting voters and use them to illegally plump up vote totals for Harris. The first witness at the hearing was Lisa Britt, who worked for Dowless and admitted marking votes on other people's blank ballots. She also said she heard Dowless regularly speaking with Andy Yates of Red Dome consulting, the firm hired by the Harris campaign.
There are three Democrats and two Republicans on the board, meaning one of them will have to cross party lines to either declare Harris the winner (three votes needed) or call a new election (four votes required.)