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After Years of Fearmongering Mythical Threat of Voter Fraud, GOP 'Silence Now Deafening' as Real Election Fraud Exposed in North Carolina

"There's finally a case that looks like real, election-changing election fraud. It just so happens that it's alleged to have benefited a Republican. Suddenly, the North Carolina GOP is less concerned about the effects of fraud."

Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris addresses the crowd as President Donald Trump listens at the Bojangles Coliseum on October 26, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The Republican Party and President Donald Trump have spent a lot of time issuing hysterical, racist, and evidence-free warnings about the prevalence of "voter fraud" in the U.S. as a pretext to roll back voting rights, but the GOP has been conspicuously silent after what has been described as a clear case of election fraud was discovered in North Carolina's 9th congressional district (NC-09), where a Republican candidate edged out his Democratic opponent by just over 900 votes.

"Not enough people are talking about this clear case of election fraud. A new election must be held immediately."
—Rep. Ro Khanna

Last week, the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics voted unanimously against certifying Republican Mark Harris' narrow win over Democrat Dan McCready, with one member of the board vaguely citing "unfortunate activities" that may have distorted the final results.

Reporting and witness testimony in the days since the board vote has detailed "a slew of evidence" indicating that GOP operatives carried out a large ballot-harvesting effort, in which thousands of absentee ballots may have been collected and destroyed in an attempt to swing the election in the Republican Party's favor.

As USA Today notes, "A large majority of those unreturned ballots belonged to African-Americans and Native American voters."

"There is now overwhelming evidence that Republicans in NC-09 paid people to collect mail-in ballots which were never sent in," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter. "Not enough people are talking about this clear case of election fraud. A new election must be held immediately."

Reportedly led by long-time Republican operative Leslie McCrae Dowless, who worked for Harris' campaign, the alleged election fraud operation involved paying North Carolinians to go door-to-door and collect absentee ballots and hand them over to Dowless.

One woman who says she was paid by Dowless said she wasn't aware the operation was illegal because Dowless "has been doing it for years." The woman said she never saw Dowless mail in the ballots.

"The Justice Department must investigate this," declared Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "⁦In a different time, an attorney general would be speaking forcefully against recent voter suppression efforts, vowing to do everything possible to protect fair elections. The silence now is deafening."

"⁦In a different time, an attorney general would be speaking forcefully against recent voter suppression efforts, vowing to do everything possible to protect fair elections. The silence now is deafening."
—Vanita Gupta, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

As state investigators have probed the numerous election fraud accusations in recent days, President Donald Trump—who warned about "voter fraud" repeatedly in the days prior to November's midterms—has not yet said or tweeted a word about the North Carolina accusations.

Democratic congressional leaders, for their part, have vowed not to seat Harris in the new Congress until the fraud accusations are sufficiently investigated. Harris has denied any knowledge of illegal election activity.

In a statement on Wednesday, Rep. Gerry Connelly (D-Va.), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, demanded an emergency hearing on the possibly tainted North Carolina election.

"Real election fraud is playing out right before us," Connelly said. "Votes have been stolen by preying on senior and minority voters, and now a cloud of doubt and suspicion hangs over this election result."

As The Atlantic's David Graham wrote in a summary of the North Carolina accusations, "After years of insisting there's rampant election fraud in North Carolina and accusing Democrats of indifference or complicity, there's finally a case that looks like real, election-changing election fraud."

"It just so happens that it's alleged to have benefited a Republican," Graham concluded. "Suddenly, the North Carolina GOP is less concerned about the effects of fraud."

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