February 25, 2019
Joe Bruno, a reporter covering the government beat for the Charlotte, North Carolina ABC News affiliate WSOC-TV, told Hill.TV on February 22 that he believed Republican Mark Harris—the apparent winner of the state’s 9th District congressional race against Democratic candidate Dan McCready—had decided to call for a new election in the disputed race after listening to his own son’s testimony in a state hearing into alleged ballot-tampering fraud.
With all precincts reporting, Harris had narrowly won his congressional bid by 905 votes—fewer than the number that Leslie McCrae Dowless is purported to have tampered with on the candidate’s behalf during the election on November 6.
Until his son took the stand to testify in the case on February 20, Harris had repeatedly denied that he knew anything about the ballot tampering in which Dowless had allegedly engaged.
However, Bruno said, “I think the key moment that really struck Mr. Harris is when his son John essentially testified against him.”
Mark Harris could be seen crying at the end of his son’s testimony.
By the next day, the Republican candidate, himself, told the courtroom during testimony that he believed a new election should be held. “Through the testimony I’e listened to over the past three days, I believe a new election should be called. It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously on February 21 to call a new election in the state’s 9th Congressional District. The board had refused to certify the results of the earlier election.
Bruno said Harris had likely found the evidence of potential fraud convincing.
“I think Mark Harris got to that point because he sat in that room, he listened to all of the testimony for three days including from one woman who said she went around and collected absentee ballots, went as far as to change and trace over the ink on certain ballot envelopes, and make sure that the witness signatures had the same ink on them,” Bruno said.
“There’s been allegations that some votes were filled in for people when they left certain races blank, allegations that the early vote results were leaked ahead of time,” he added.
Both of the candidates now are preparing to make another run for the office.
Research contact: @JoeBrunoWSOC9