Hearing set Jan. 11 to receive evidence in 9th District contest

Published 5:49 pm Thursday, December 27, 2018

The N.C. General Assembly met in Raleigh on Thursday to consider overriding Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of an elections bill, especially a part of the bill he says would add secrecy to campaign finance investigations.

The Republican-controlled N.C. House and Senate are expected to discuss the veto override. The election bill would require new primaries — not a general election — in the disputed 9th Congressional District should the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement decide a new vote is necessary.

Cooper said he vetoed the bill because it would make future state election board investigations of campaign finance allegations confidential. On Wednesday, Cooper released a statement asking voters to contact representatives and senators and request they negotiate with him and not override his veto.

Meanwhile, the state board has set 10 a.m. Jan. 11, 2019, as a public hearing for the disputed 9th Congressional District race.

On Dec. 8, the state board decided not to certify the results of the election and hold an evidentiary hearing regarding the voting irregularities. The N.C. Republican Party, on Dec. 17, released a resolution calling on the state board to produce evidence the alleged voting irregularities would have changed the outcome of the race or immediately certify the results.

The unofficial results have Republican Mark Harris with 49.3 percent of the vote to Democrat Dan McCready’s 48.9 percent. Libertarian Jeff Scott has 1.8 percent of the vote.

Harris defeated McCready by about 900 votes on Election Day. Those results have been discredited by allegations that an operative working for the Harris campaign collected, tampered with or even destroyed absentee ballots. The alleged plot is now the subject of a state inquiry. The findings of the state investigation will be presented at the Jan. 11, 2019, hearing.

On Christmas Eve, Joe Bruno, a reporter for WSOC TV, added a new piece to the situation. Three voters testified in sworn affidavits they had filled out their absentee ballots and then gave them to a person who came to their house and promised to deliver the ballots to state officials to be counted. Bruno checked public voting records and found that none of those voters had actually had their ballots counted.

The district’s current representative is Republican Robert Pittenger. The district includes parts or whole counties of Mecklenberg, Anson, Union, Richmond, Scotland, Robeson, Blanden and Cumberland counties.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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