State board to set date for 9th District election Monday, monitor election

Posted February 27, 2019 2:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 27, 2019 8:19 p.m. EST

— The State Board of Elections will gather again Monday to set new election dates in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The state board also formally announced that it would have staff in Bladen and Robeson counties ahead of the new election "to monitor and assist with the elections process."

The board called for a new election last week, after hearings into absentee ballot irregularities in those counties culminated in Republican Mark Harris, who had seemed to win last year's race by 905 votes, acknowledging the need for a do-over. The plan is to hold new primaries as well as a general election.

McCrae Dowless, the central suspect in last week's hearings, was arrested Wednesday and charged with a number of crimes tied to the 2016 elections and the 2018 primaries. More charges from the 2018 general election may be forthcoming.

State board Executive Director Kim Strach, who oversaw the state board investigation laid out in last week's hearing, said in a statement Wednesday that the indictments, "should serve as a stern warning to anyone trying to defraud elections in North Carolina."

"Today is a new and better day for elections in our state," Strach said.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said he supports the state's plan to monitor the election in Bladen and Robeson counties.

"It's clear to me that that there are a lot of real questions about how the current process with the handling of absentee ballots is working out, particularly in the counties that have been discussed," said Berger, R-Rockingham.

Democrat Dan McCready, who appeared to have lost the November election, has restarted his campaign for the 9th District seat.

David Blackwelder, president of the Wake County chapter of the North Carolina Sheriff Police Alliance and a former candidate for a spot on the Wake County Board of Commissioners, is the first Republican to enter the race, although state GOP officials say they expect a dozen candidates to seek the 9th District seat.