NC State BOE Public Hearing on NC09 Election Continues
If you've been following the NC09 election tampering hearing held by the NC State Board of Elections, you'll know the testimony from the first three days has been riveting, with witnesses confirming they were directed and paid by McCrae Dowless to gather absentee ballots, completed or not, and witness them in bulk and not always in the presence of the voter. Andy Yates, the consultant who hired and paid Dowless at the request of the Harris campaign, denied all knowledge of this as well as denying any knowledge of similar events in 2016, in which Dowless also played a part and ended up the subject of an episode of "This American Life". Hard to believe a savvy political consultant who received several hundred thousand dollars for his work was so naive. But he also never provided receipts or requested documentation from Dowless for the work he did.
Today's bombshell came as Mark Harris' son, John Harris, a 29yo assistant US attorney, voluntarily produced emails showing that he warned his parents in advance about McCrae Dowless and what appeared to be an illegal ballot collecting scheme, based on his analysis of the 2016 primary absentee ballot data, when Dowless was working for another candidate. Harris of course has been on record for months now saying he knew nothing of these illegal activities and was never warned about them. Essentially, Mark Harris chose to believe those that told him Dowless would get the job done, instead of listening to his son who was advising him to steer clear. In a heartfelt closing today, John Harris stated that he loves his parents and believes that they were too trusting in people who were not honest with them. He also said that it is incumbent on all parties to transcend partisan politics and do better.
In addition to examining the tactics used with the absentee ballots, the Board is also looking at the illegal exposure of the early voting results which occurred when the early votes were tabulated and seen by a number of people at the Bladen Co. BOE. Results are not supposed to be run until after the actual election day, since it could be shared with a campaign for a competitive edge.
It has also now been shown that McCrae Dowless provided instruction to his workers, prior to this hearing, to deny all wrongdoing and stick together, so now an obstruction case will likely be considered on top of everything else.
What is important to remember is this is not a criminal court, just an investigative hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to show the results of the election should be questioned, and a new election called. It is pretty apparent by now that is the case, regardless of the specific number of votes and ballots in question. Also, the US House can have the final say if they do not agree with the actions taken locally. There is a representative from the House at the hearing this week. Even now after all of this evidence, the Harris camp is still pushing for his election to be certified.
Follow along by watching the live stream on wral.com or wect.com, or catch up on the latest from NPR here. You can also check Twitter and search #NC09 for updates. Mark Harris will take the stand at 9am tomorrow morning. The hearing is now expected to wrap up Thursday, with a decision then.