A Democratic member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is calling for an emergency hearing to examine allegations of election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th District race, in which Republican Mark Harris leads by 905 votes.

State election officials are investigating charges that a political operative working for the Harris campaign oversaw a crew of workers who illegally collected mail-in absentee ballots from voters. The operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, worked primarily in Bladen County.

“Real election fraud is playing out right before us,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), a senior oversight committee member. “Votes have been stolen by preying on senior and minority voters, and now a cloud of doubt and suspicion hangs over this election result.”

A spokesman for the Republican chairman of the committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, said the House Administration Committee has primary jurisdiction over election matters.

Connolly’s call for an emergency hearing comes one day after incoming House majority leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said Democrats might refuse to seat Harris until “substantial” questions about the integrity of his election are resolved.


GOP congressional candidate Mark Harris speaks to the media during a news conference in Matthews, N.C., last month. (Chuck Burton/AP)

The probe has delayed the certification of Harris’s narrow victory over Democrat Dan McCready. The state election board could call for a new election. 

In a statement Tuesday, the North Carolina Republican Party said it “fully supports criminal investigations into any possible unlawful election activities. While our information is extremely limited from election administrators, the recent news reports are concerning and must be fully investigated.”

But the party added that unless officials have “strong evidence the outcome of the race was changed or there was a substantial likelihood the race could have been changed,” the elections board should certify Harris as the winner while the investigation continues.