By Yustin Riopko
MONROE – Union County leaders are urging the N.C. State Board of Elections to immediately certify this year’s congressional election.
In a resolution passed 3-1 on Dec. 17, county commissioners requested the state certify Republican Mark Harris’s victory over Democrat Dan McCready for North Carolina’s 9th District of the House of Representatives. The resolution itself is a request with no binding authority. This decision comes in response to the state’s delay in certifying results because of issues related to absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties.
“Our resolution’s objective is not one party over the other. It’s not whether one candidate should be certified or the other,” Chairman Richard Helms said. “I’ve heard about smoking guns. Three weeks I’ve heard about it. I’ve not seen the smoking gun. So the board of elections needs to clarify where the problems are, and if the results take away enough votes from Mr. Harris, then he doesn’t win. If his votes maintain, then we need to be consistent and transparent for what we’re saying.”
The vote was passed the same day state Republicans sent a copy of their own resolution to the board of elections.
Indian Trail resident Steven Davis spoke out against the Union County resolution at the commissioners meeting.
“For the Union County Board of Commissioners to consider imposing their personal desires on another county is a glaring example of attempted overreach,” Davis said. “Do not put a price tag on our elections. Do not condone election fraud.”
Commissioner Stony Rushing expressed concern that Union County citizens won’t have representation until the election results are decided. He said the events in one county affect the rest in the district.
“We’re dragging this out,” Rushing said. “All our veterans, all our kids that are wanting to go into the military and need help – those people need constituent services. And counties that need help on the congressional level. There’s eight counties in the 9th District that are not gonna be able to do that because we don’t have representation.”
Rushing believes the state and county could’ve acted earlier if they suspected fraud.
“The state board of elections are the referees,” the commissioner said. “They’re supposed to step in. Bladen County and the state are supposed to step in and say, ‘Wait a minute. We have information that there’s voter fraud…’ Rather than that, they pulled it as a knife on us a month after the election. The election’s over with and they said, ‘Well, we don’t like the outcome.’”
Commissioner Jerry Simpson alone voted against the resolution.
“As a conservative Republican, I supported Mark Harris and campaigned for him diligently throughout the campaign,” Simpson said. “This is a complex issue, and as you can see it’s becoming a partisan issue… I’ve always stood as a conservative Republican. But I stood and put my hand on the Bible and swore an oath to support, to defend, the constitution and support every citizen in Union County and so I can’t support the resolution.”
Vice Chairman Dennis Rape said Harris is a good man, citing the candidate’s friendliness and dedication to the district.
“What I see is just the media trying to destroy him,” Rape said. “If you have the smoking gun, lay it out and let’s get it done. But quit talking about it. Either present the evidence or certify him.”
The state board of elections has postponed an evidentiary hearing originally scheduled for Dec. 21 until Jan. 11. The 116th Congress will convene Jan. 3.
Commissioner Frank Aikmus was absent during the vote.