SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - State elected officials on both sides of the aisle held press conferences Thursday to address growing evidence of election fraud in the race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, and Governor Roy Cooper and US House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi reacted to the ongoing investigation.
Republicans from the state Senate called on Cooper to launch a new, bipartisan investigation into the absentee by-mail ballot irregularities in Bladen and Robeson counties. Sens. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Tommy Tucker (R-Union) and Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) say the state board of elections is under Democratic control, and therefore cannot conduct an impartial investigation.
“The only proper way to investigate potential voter fraud involving both parties is to appoint a fully bipartisan task force," Newton said.
If a new investigation were to show evidence of election fraud in the district, lawmakers said they would be open to a new election, but until then, they are not convinced.
“I think that if there are not enough votes to overturn the election, they probably need to go ahead and certify it," Tucker said. "If we find irregularities and the vote count being where it is...then that certainly is an option.”
“We need to drive voter fraud out of the state. If Republicans committed fraud, they need to be held accountable," Tucker said, but added that Democrats should be held to the same standard.
The North Carolina Democratic Party responded with a press conference of its own, and Wayne Goodwin said the goal should be to call for a new election, not a new investigation.
“Amidst overwhelming evidence of election tampering in the 9th Congressional District, Republicans are doing everything they can to distract and obstruct justice and avoid accountability,” Goodwin said. “The evidence as it mounts every day is that this election has been seriously tainted by a coordinated scheme to undermine the rights of North Carolina voters. A new election is not only appropriate, it is necessary.”
During a trip to Surf City, WECT asked Cooper what he thought of the call for a new investigation and a change to the makeup of the board of elections.
He said the board and its investigative team should have a chance to complete the work that has started to get to the bottom of the irregularities in Bladen and Robeson counties, and any changes to the way the board is organized could come at a later date.
“What’s important here is making sure that these criminal investigations and the prosecution work hard to uncover election fraud that may have occurred here," Cooper said. "It’s important that North Carolina have fair and free elections and it’s important for us to allow those investigators and prosecutors to do their work.
"I think it may be something important for the legislature to do down the road, to look at what changes need to be made in the law, but right now, we need to let these criminal investigators and prosecutors do their job to investigate any election fraud that may have occurred.”
On Thursday afternoon, Pelosi held a news conference to discuss the situation in Bladen and Robeson counties. She noted the bipartisan concerns with the irregularities, and said the House will be looking into the matter.
“As you know, it’s not just the Democrats who have a problem with how it went in North Carolina," Pelosi said. “The Republicans have a problem too because it affected their primary election.”
She said should the need arise, the House Administration Committee has full authority to conduct its own investigation.