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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

Evidence is mounting that voter fraud may have benefitted a Republican congressional candidate in North Carolina.

Yet despite Trump’s obsession with voter fraud, he is suddenly silent now that his own party — and a candidate he personally endorsed — might be in trouble for it.

Mark Harris declared victory after vote tallies showed him leading Democrat Dan McCready by a narrow 905-vote margin in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

But the state board of elections has now twice declined to certify these results due to serious concerns about voting irregularities. And the Associated Press has officially revoked its projection that Harris had won, making the race once again “too close to call.”

The board of elections will be holding an evidentiary hearing “to assure that the election is determined without taint,” said Joshua Malcolm, vice chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

There is a lot to investigate — including shocking allegations that someone associated with the Harris campaign coordinated an effort to either throw away or fraudulently fill in absentee ballots cast by Democratic voters.

This isn’t the same kind of “voter fraud” that Trump and Republicans love to spread conspiracy theories about. They claim that in-person voter fraud is rampant — but in reality, it’s so rare that it’s practically nonexistent.

Absentee ballot fraud, on the other hand, does happen and is a very real threat to election integrity.

Just two weeks before the election, Trump was in the state campaigning for Harris and attacking his Democratic opponent.

Trump has often fearmongered over voter fraud. In a pre-election message, he wrote, “Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!”

Trump also shamelessly lied by claiming that illegal voting is the only reason he got 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton in 2016. He even set up a government-funded effort to try to prove this alleged fraud, a crusade that collapsed in scandal and humiliation.

Yet now that there’s a real example of voter fraud, with strong evidence that it may have swayed an election, Trump has nothing to say.

Of particular concern in North Carolina are the votes in Bladen County, where Harris received 61 percent of the absentee votes even though only 19 percent of those who submitted absentee ballots were Republicans. 39 percent of the ballots came from unaffiliated voters.

Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College, analyzed the results and told the Charlotte Observer that it would be “pretty astonishing” if every single one of those unaffiliated voters actually voted Republican.

“If that’s the case, there’s a very concerted effort to use that method to one candidate’s advantage,” he said. “But at that level there’s something else beyond a concerted effort that could be at work.”

Several voters provided notarized affidavits alleging suspicious behavior from people who claimed to be authorized to collect absentee ballots, but who may have really been operatives for Harris’ campaign.

Datesha Montgomery said that a woman came to her house and told her she was collecting absentee ballots. When Montgomery told the woman she had voted for two candidates in non-congressional races, the woman told her “the others were not important,” collected Montgomery’s signed ballot, and said she would finish it herself.

Emma Shipman also had an encounter with a woman who presented herself as an absentee ballot collector without providing any proof of the claim.

Others reported that they received absentee ballots by mail that they never requested. In Bladen, requests for absentee ballots were unusually high — 7.5 percent of registered voters, compared to just 3 percent in most North Carolina counties.

This is a lot of evidence that something irregular happened in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

But because these irregularities benefited his fellow Republican, Trump is ignoring them — and railing instead against the totally imaginary kinds of voter fraud.

Other prominent Republicans, like outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, have also recently chimed in to promote a Trump-style conspiracy theory accusing Democrats of stealing elections after the GOP was crushed in the midterms.

Ryan hasn’t said anything about North Carolina either.

Republicans are under the legal microscope for election fraud that may have benefitted a candidate Trump personally backed. But despite leaping to wild conclusions about voter fraud on multiple occasions, Trump is now suspiciously silent.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

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