North Carolina voters have been subject to the boogeyman of election fraud for a decade now. It was the only stated impetus for the state’s voter ID bill, which NC Republicans have been trying to pass pretty much since they took over the General Assembly in 2010.
And it was the specter of election fraud that fueled the voter ID amendment to the state constitution, which passed by voter referendum in 2016 so that we could all have more confidence in NC’s electoral process.
Flash back to 2016, when NC GOP Chairman Dallas Woodhouse, while being interviewed for the NPR program “This American Life,” was asked about absentee ballot fraud in Bladen County, where Pat McCrory had hinged his last hopes on re-election before finally conceding in December.
“Should the election board find that these are absentee ballot mills, with the purpose of fraudulent voting, those people should go to jail,” he said, then.
But Woodhouse spent Monday and Tuesday on Twitter, responding in real time to the NC Board of Elections hearing concerning absentee ballot abuse… in Bladen County. The board has yet to certify the results of November’s election in the 9th Congressional District that saw Republican Mark Harris defeat Democrat Dan McCready by 900 or so votes.
On Monday, state Elections Director Kim Strach testified that “a coordinated, unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme operated in the 2018 general election.”
Evidence implicated political operative Dowless McRae, Harris and his staff in the grift. The board must now decide if a new election is necessary to maintain confidence in our electoral system.
And now Woodhouse, once a champion of the will of North Carolina voters, becomes a skeptic, an obfuscator, a water-muddier, an agnostic bean-counter, all the while insisting that Harris be seated as a member of the US Congress.
He told The Hill: “His victory margin is 905 votes. Even if all of his [absentee by mail] ballots were tainted, his 905-vote margin would stand.”
He told a gaggle of reporters on Monday that he hadn’t yet seen any evidence that would change his mind.
And in a tweet on Tuesday he acknowledged the similarities between his 2016 complaint and the current fiasco, but added: “It was dismissed by the board. Of course we know now that democrat @ncsbe appointee was made aware of concerns BEFORE the primary and did nothing, except certify the primary race.”
The hearings continue through the week. And while the illegal actions of those he’s defending have become evident, their consequences more clear, Woodhouse will stick to his guns.
Because, though the board has the authority to call a new election, the state House can intervene. Woodhouse and the GOP still have more influence on that body than they do with the general public.