The allegations have left North Carolina's Ninth Congressional district seat in limbo, with Harris holding a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready.
McCready's move comes after the head of the state Republican Party said he would support a new election in the state's unresolved congressional race if an investigation shows that wrongdoing swayed its outcome.
Leading up to the 2018 midterms, Dowless was reportedly paid by a consulting firm hired by Harris to help get out the vote. If true, the charges sharply contrast with those that Republicans have used to justify ballot restrictions around the country, said Myrna Perez, a voting-rights expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school.
In recent days, amid mounting allegations of a ballot-harvesting operation, state Republicans have shifted their rhetoric. At that time, the GOP chair demanded a quick certification before the Democratic majority on the election board could "unscrupulously order a new election on a party line vote". And the fact that Harris managed to win a whopping 96% of all Bladen County absentee ballots that actually made it to election officials is a big red flag, too.
There are also claims that incomplete ballots were collected and then filled out later, Cohen said.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday that Republicans should be concerned as well, because Dowless also operated in the GOP primary, and the allegations have significance beyond North Carolina.
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But the story line of Kelly's departure has been protracted for so many months that White House aides often now just shrug. Investigators reportedly wanted to know about reports that Trump had attempted to fire the special prosecutor.
Pelosi said such a decision would be preceded by a House Administration Committee investigation.
Pelosi, who's nominated to become House speaker when Democrats take control in January, said that "any member-elect can object to the seating and the swearing-in of another member elect".
Top N.C. Republican officials said Thursday they could support a new election in the 9th congressional district only if the board uncovers "an overwhelming amount of evidence" that fraud changed the outcome of the vote or that "there is a substantial likelihood that it could have been (changed)".
"What we cannot have going forward from this point is an investigative and enforcement effort or process that has a partisan taint that could dramatically worsen the situation", said Sen.
Woodhouse defended Harris, calling him a "good man" and said there's "no way he knew about this stuff and sanctioned it". And with even Woodhouse conceding that a new election might be necessary, Harris's chances of occupying a seat in Congress are beginning, ever-so-gradually, to shrink. "This is against everything that we actively stand for", he said. That's a shift for Woodhouse, who previously dismissed such calls as a Democratic attempt to steal the election from Harris. "Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Tommy Tucker (R-Union), and Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) today called on Governor Roy Cooper to establish an independent, bipartisan task force to investigate absentee ballot irregularities spanning multiple election cycles, including the 2016 gubernatorial election".