House Democrats are ramping up pressure on Republicans to investigate allegations of voter fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, one of the last midterm races that’s still undecided.
Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyOusted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe House committee chair requests immediate briefing on Secret Service’s involvement in clearing protesters House Democrat demands answers from Secret Service about role breaking up White House protests MORE, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Wednesday urged outgoing Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyMore than two dozen former prosecutors, judges, active trial lawyers support DOJ decision to dismiss Michael Flynn case Sunday shows preview: As states loosen social distancing restrictions, lawmakers address dwindling state budgets John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America MORE (R-S.C.) to hold an emergency hearing to probe voting “irregularities” identified by the local board of elections.
With less than a month remaining in the 115th Congress, GOP leaders are not expected to comply with Connolly’s request. But the public entreaty shows that Democrats have no plans to let the issue fade into obscurity, not least because President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE and Republicans have long warned that voter fraud poses a threat to the integrity of elections — while tapping that threat as a reason for states to pass tougher voting laws opposed by most Democrats.
That history hasn’t been overlooked by Connolly, who accused Republicans of dismissing the issue when confronted with allegations that such fraud may have benefitted a GOP candidate.
“While the Republican majority is once again chasing conspiracies, real election fraud is playing out right before us in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District,” Connolly said in a statement. “We should see every action they take to ignore this situation for what it is — a slap in the face to all voters in North Carolina who participated in the 2018 election with the expectation that every vote would be counted.”
Connolly called on Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor who’s retiring at the end of this Congress, to hold a hearing “so that we can shed light and understand what happened in this race.”
A GOP aide for the Oversight Committee suggested no hearings are forthcoming, noting the issue of federal elections falls under the jurisdiction of the House Administration Committee.
Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisTrump sparks debate over merits of voting by mail The Hill’s Campaign Report: Debate over mail-in voting heats up Bevin says he lost because liberals are ‘good at harvesting votes’ in urban areas MORE enjoys a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready in the red-leaning 9th District. But a number of voters have emerged in recent weeks with sworn claims that their absentee ballots were collected by canvassers — a practice that’s prohibited in the state.
On top of that, several people have said they were paid by a GOP operative with a history of fraud to collect those absentee ballots illegally. And a sharp discrepancy in one county between the number of absentee requests and the absentee tally has fueled suspicions of foul play.
State officials have refused to certify the results while they conduct an investigation.
Yet state regulators will not have the final say. That’s because, while Congress delegates the administration of elections to the states, the Constitution gives the House the power to “be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members.”
Citing those powers, Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOvernight Health Care: US showing signs of retreat in battle against COVID-19 | Regeneron begins clinical trials of potential coronavirus antibody treatment | CMS warns nursing homes against seizing residents’ stimulus checks Hoyer: House will vote soon on bill to improve ObamaCare Hoyer: Infrastructure package to hit floor this month MORE (D-Md.), the incoming House majority leader, indicated Tuesday that Democrats would refuse to seat any lawmaker from the 9th District before the fraud allegations have been resolved — either by local officials or by Congress.
“The House … has the authority over the propriety of the election,” Hoyer said. “This is a very substantial question, [and] it ought to be resolved before we seat any member.”
Hoyer said he intends to speak with Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenBlack lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol McConnell: States should make decision on Confederate statues Pelosi calls for removal of Confederate statues in Capitol complex MORE (D-Calif.), the incoming chair of the House Administration Committee, about a path forward.
That panel, as defined by the rules of the Congress, has jurisdiction over “corrupt practices; contested elections … and Federal elections generally.”
“We’re not beholden to anything North Carolina does, at this point,” said a Democratic aide familiar with the process.
The office of the current House Administration chairman, Rep. Gregg HarperGregory (Gregg) Livingston HarperCongress sends bill overhauling sexual harassment policy to Trump’s desk Dems cry foul in undecided N.C. race Mississippi New Members 2019 MORE (R-Miss.), who is also retiring in early January, did not respond to requests for comment.
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