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North Carolina GOP admits a new House election is probably needed after election fraud scandal

State officials have discretion under state law to call for a new election if the basic fairness of the election is in question.

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Dylan Scott covers health care for Vox. He has reported on health policy for more than 10 years, writing for Governing magazine, Talking Points Memo and STAT before joining Vox in 2017.

North Carolina Republican leaders sound resigned to the obvious: Given the evidence of absentee ballot tampering in the Ninth Congressional District, the subject of a state inquiry, a new election will likely need to be called.

State GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse stopped just short Tuesday of formally asking for a new election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. But he did say that if early voting totals were leaked, a new election would be necessary — and one of the sworn affidavits that blew up this entire scandal describes exactly that.

In one of the affidavits submitted by Democratic attorneys to the North Carolina elections board, a woman said she saw unusual activity at a polling site: election results being run after polls closed on the last day of early voting and observed by people who were not elections judges, which she understood to be “improper.” The person said she also helped tabulate absentee ballots after the election that were quite worn and had “coding” written on them.

The state board has discretion under state law to call for a new election if the basic fairness of the election is in question. The board already unanimously agreed not to certify the Ninth District’s results because of the fraud allegations.

The strange tales of vote counts being leaked aren’t isolated. Voters have also said an unidentified woman picked up their ballots, in another apparent violation of state law, and an unusually high number of absentee ballots were requested in the Ninth but never returned. A local Republican operative working in support of the Harris campaign has been implicated as the ringleader of the ballot tampering scheme.

North Carolina Republicans originally threatened to sue the elections board if it refused to certify the Ninth results. But they have since backed all the way down from that threat and are now effectively calling for a new election. It has since been revealed that the state party may have been privy to allegations of unusual activity in the district during the GOP primary in May when Harris upset incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger, as the Washington Post reported.

The state board has said it would hold a hearing of the evidence of fraud on or before December 21.