Republican officials in North Carolina said Tuesday that they would support a new election in state’s 9th Congressional District if investigators determined early voting results were leaked in one of its counties ― even though a Republican stands to benefit from the results as they stand.
“We can never tolerate the state putting its thumb on the scale,” Robin Hayes, the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, said Tuesday in a statement. “The people involved in this must be held accountable and should it be true, this fact alone would likely require a new election.”
Bladen County tallied early votes before polls closed on Election Day, The Charlotte Observer reported Monday. A poll worker said last month in a sworn affidavit submitted through the state Democratic Party that someone who was not an election judge viewed that tabulation.
Dallas Woodhouse, the state Republican Party’s executive director, said at a press conference that Republicans were fairly sure the results had been leaked in the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.
Republicans previously said they would only support a new election if a probe into irregularities with absentee ballots indicated the outcome of the race could have been affected. Now they are saying state officials can order a new election as long as they can determine the previous election was sufficiently tainted by fraud.
North Carolina election law says officials can’t start electronically counting early votes until polls close. Polls for the general election closed in North Carolina the evening of Nov. 6, and early voting ended at 1 p.m. on Nov. 3. Election officials tabulated the early vote at 1:44 p.m.
It’s unclear if election officials were allowed to tabulate the early votes ahead of the polls closing on Election Day. Regardless, it would be illegal to let any third party see the results before the polls closed, said Gerry Cohen, an expert on North Carolina elections who served as counsel to the state’s general assembly.
McCready’s campaign told the Observer no one from the campaign had seen early vote totals before Election Day. Harris’ campaign did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.