North Carolina GOP leader says he's "horrified" by allegations of election fraud

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

State officials investigate potential election fraud in North Carolina; emergency hearing possible

Dowless was hired by a consultant to work on behalf of Republican Mark Harris, who appeared to defeat Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the election. For almost the past decade, Dowless has been hired by state and local candidates to "get out the vote", and his past efforts have also been marked with absentee mail-in ballot irregularities. Multiple people have admitted to WSOC's Joe Bruno that they were paid to serve as witnesses to and collect absentee mail-in ballots, which is illegal.

The State Board of Elections is investigating whether he had a role in manipulating or even handling absentee ballots.

The state elections board has twice declined to certify Harris' victory and plans to hold an evidentiary hearing in the case this month.

During the 2016 primary, Dowless allegedly used similar tactics for another campaign, also in North Carolina's 9th.

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. There's a real possibility that they will call for a new election.

Accusations of fraud have hung up results in the state's 9th Congressional District, potentially leaving the outcome in the hands of the incoming House Democratic majority.

A state election board spokesman confirmed Thursday that subpoenas seeking documents had been sent to the Harris campaign, the firm serving as Harris' chief strategist and the campaign committee of the sitting Bladen sheriff. If the board hasn't certified the results by January 3, when the new Congress is sworn in, any member can object to Harris being seated.

Jamie Bowers, a spokesman for outgoing District 9 incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger, said he isn't sure if House leaders can chose a victor in the case of an uncertified race.

'What we cannot have going forward from this point is an investigative and enforcement effort or process that has a partisan taint that could dramatically worsen the situation, ' said Sen.

"If they can say with a strong degree of certainty that the outcome of the race was changed or there is a substantial likelihood that it could have been, the law requires that there be a new election, and we would not oppose", said Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, in an interview with NPR. Dan Bishop, a Charlotte Republican. Since 2012, when Republicans consolidated control over the legislature and governor's mansion, "what we've seen is some of the most comprehensive voting restrictions in the country", said Tomas Lopez, head of Democracy North Carolina, a voter-access organization. The state elections board refused to certify the results, citing "claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee mail ballots", according to Joshua Malcolm, who was bumped from the board's vice chair to its chairman by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, on Monday. 'If we find the irregularities and the vote count being where it is, then (a new election) certainly is an option'.

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