In case you missed it amidst all of the hubbub and controversy surrounding alleged fraud in Mark Harris’s “victory” in the 9th Congressional District last month, the final say about Harris becoming a member of Congress will actually reside in Washington. As The Hill reported yesterday, incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has made it plain that Harris will not be seated if things are not fully investigated and resolved here. This is from “Hoyer: Dems won’t seat Harris until North Carolina fraud allegations are resolved”:
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday warned that Democrats will not seat a North Carolina Republican if allegations of election fraud carry over to next year, when Democrats take control of the lower chamber.
Hoyer, who will be majority leader in the next Congress, said he’s hopeful that North Carolina officials will settle the controversy surrounding Republican Mark Harris, who has a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready in a contest dogged by allegations of election fraud.
But if the issue remains under a cloud of contention — or if local officials certify Harris in a way viewed as partisan — Democrats will investigate the matter themselves before seating Harris, Hoyer said.
“The allegation is of serious fraudulent activity on behalf of the Republican administrator — one or more — dealing with primarily absentee ballots. … So there’s a very substantial question,” Hoyer told reporters during a press briefing in the Capitol.
“The House … has the authority over the propriety of the election. This is a very substantial question [and] it ought to be resolved before we seat any member,” he said.
Harris, who defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger, a three-term Republican, in the GOP primary earlier in the year, leads McCready, the Democrat, by roughly 900 votes in North Carolina’s 9th District, a conservative stronghold that has not seated a Democrat since the 1960s.
But a number of voters have emerged since the midterms with claims that their absentee ballots were collected illegally. One woman has said she was paid by a GOP operative to do the collecting.
Amid the allegations, the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Friday declined to certify the results.
Hoyer said he intends to talk to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who will likely be chairwoman of the House Administration Committee next year, about how to approach the fraud allegations in the district, but he was clear that if the controversy persists into next year, Democrats will not seat Harris.
“If there is what appears to be a very substantial question on the integrity of the election, clearly we would oppose Mr. Harris’s being seated until that is resolved,” he said.
In other words, it’s way too late for Republicans to continue to argue that the election is somehow settled. Now is the time for all parties to support a comprehensive investigation of what happened with mail-in absentee ballots in the 9th District and, if necessary, arrange for a new election.