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North Carolina Democrat Drops Concession Amid Probe

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North Carolina candidate paid $428k to consulting firm linked to alleged ballot tampering

Mark Harris now has 905 more votes than Democrat Dan McCready in the congressional race, but state officials are hesitant to certify the results after Democrats are accusing their opponents of voter fraud.

The head of North Carolina's Republican Party says he would "not oppose" a new election in the state's 9th Congressional District if allegations of fraud by a GOP operative prove true.

Republican leaders say Harris, a Southern Baptist minister, should be certified the victor, saying no evidence has been made public that show he didn't get the most lawful votes.

Concerns about voter harvesting anxious state election officials so much that they sent a letter to every Bladen County address where a voter requested a mail-in ballot asking the voter to call them if someone else tried take the ballot or fill it out.

The board is meeting later this month to hear evidence, but it's unclear whether the race will be settled then. The state Board of Elections and the Wake County district attorney have launched investigations. That day, The Associated Press also retracted its call that Harris had won, adding that it was "treating the board's action as if the race has proceeded to a recount".

McCready rescinded his concession on Thursday.

At issue is who can handle completed ballots. Two members of Dowless's own staff have said they collected absentee ballots at his behest, not knowing it was illegal.

In Bladen, 19 percent of absentee ballots counted were cast by Republicans.

Harris' campaign paid the GOP consulting firm Red Dome Group more than $400,000 during the 2018 campaign - and Red Dome Group paid Dowless.

Dowless earned more than $23,000 working on six campaigns dating back to 2010, and in most of those races, Dowless' candidates received a disproportionately higher percentage of absentee votes in Bladen County. Dowless has a felony criminal record.

On Thursday, McCready told television station WSOC that he was withdrawing his concession and accused Harris of bankrolling "criminal activity". The Harris campaign and Red Dome founder Andy Yates didn't respond to an email seeking comment.

The 9th Congressional District has been represented by a Republican in Washington for more than five decades. Harris said last week that his victory should be finalized while the board investigated. But the state elections board refused to certify the results last week in view of "claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities" involving mail-in ballots in the district.

Harris, the Republican candidate, won 61 percent of the mail-in ballots that were turned in. A new election early next year is possible, as is a temporary vacancy when Congress convenes January 3.

In recent days, amid mounting allegations of a ballot-harvesting operation, state Republicans have shifted their rhetoric.

Pelosi said "any member-elect can object to the seating and the swearing-in of another member-elect".

McCready's move comes after the head of the state Republican Party said he would support a new election in the state's unresolved congressional race if an investigation shows that wrongdoing swayed its outcome.

Pittenger said he did not recall being told of fraud complaints his advisers made to Woodhouse and Foote, and he declined to confirm that he blamed "ballot stuffers" on election night.

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, told CNN reporter Drew Griffin that after watching the network's coverage of the allegations, he became so upset that he "threw up", according to a tweet from anchor Jim Sciutto.

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