It’s been nearly a month since North Carolina voters cast their ballots for the 9th Congressional District, but officials are still holding off on certifying the winner amid an investigation of possible voter fraud pertaining to absentee ballots.
North Carolina's elections board unanimously decided to delay finalizing the results of the close U.S. House race in a meeting Tuesday. Friday’s board meeting agenda did not include any plans for certification, according to The Washington Post.
Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes out of nearly 283,000 cast in the district. The GOP has held the district since 1963.
Democratic Party attorney John Wallace has alleged public records confirm “that serious irregularities and improprieties may have occurred,” pointing to Bladen County which had the highest percentage of absentee ballot requests in the whole state, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Wallace gave the elections board notarized affidavits from several voters who claimed ballots were improperly collected without being signed or appropriately sealed. One woman said she turned over a partially completed ballot, and the person collecting it said “she would finish it herself.”
Another woman said she voted early in person but still received an absentee ballot in the mail despite not requesting one.
Joshua Malcolm, the board’s vice chairman, was the person who requested a delay in the certification of the election. Malcolm's motion cited a state law that reads the board can “take any other action necessary to assure that an election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption and without irregularities that may have changed the result of an election.”
He said he was concerned about “unfortunate activities that have been happening down in my part of the state, and I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place to the best of my understanding.”
The board could call for new elections in some circumstances if five of the nine members agree, according to The Associated Press. It is made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and one unaffiliated member.
Harris, a Southern Baptist minister from Charlotte, said he was surprised by the board’s decision to delay the certification but will “continue to prepare in DC to serve the constituents of the 9th District.”
He also shared a letter on Twitter from his attorney requesting access “to all information relating to the investigation as it pertains to counting or not counting votes and the number of votes involved.”
McCready called the voter fraud allegations “troubling” and said he supports the board’s decision to delay the certification of the election results.
“We cannot allow anyone to tamper with our elections or sabotage our electoral process,” McCready, a Marine Corps veteran, said. “I stand with voters all across the 9th District in wanting to make sure any wrongdoing is investigated and prosecuted regardless of the outcome of the election.”
The 9th district spans a few counties in the middle of North Carolina, along the border with South Carolina.
State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement Chairman Andy Penry is also the subject of a complaint filed by the Wake County Republican Party seeking his removal. The complaint alleges he violated state law with his social media activity criticizing President Trump, according to WRAL.
It is unclear how long the investigation could take; the new Congress is scheduled to begin Jan. 3. A spokesperson for the elections board did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
There has been an intense debate in the country – particularly in North Carolina – over voter fraud and efforts by Republican lawmakers to impose stricter voter ID requirements. Trump, too, has long claimed widespread voter fraud took place in the 2016 election, an assertion that has not been substantiated. Democrats have often argued voter fraud is not a widespread problem.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.