A hearing was held Tuesday about Republican voter fraud scheme in North Carolina that civil rights advocates said suppressed the Black vote.
On Monday, a political operative working for Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris admitted to election officials that she illegally picked up and falsified absentee ballots as part of a scheme to help Harris steal the 2018 midterm election, CNN reported.
In the North Carolina contest, Harris was fighting off the Democratic wave in his district to keep a congressional seat that Republicans held for more than half a century. He had 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready after the ballots were counted in the ninth district race, but the state board of elections declined to certify Harris as the winner because of absentee balloting irregularities.
Election officials and witnesses said that the scheme may have involved more than 1,000 absentee ballots or request forms. Republican operatives were accused of forging signatures, completing ballots and mailing them from post offices near the voter’s home.
Lisa Britt, a felon who had illegally cast her own ballot, admitted on the witness stand on Monday that she illegally collected between 35 and 40 absentee ballots in violation of state law. A consulting firm working for Harris paid her at least $150 per 50 absentee ballots she collected.
Britt denied changing any votes, and the attorney representing Harris downplayed what effect the scheme had on the election results. However, civil rights advocates rejected that claim.
“Attorney for Mark Harris, the candidate who benefited from this scheme, is now cross examining Lisa Britt. The attorney trying to suggest this is no big deal b/c the ballots that Britt took belonged to Republicans. This is FALSE. Black & Native American voters were most impacted,” tweeted Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Precious Hall testified that she was a victim of the scheme.
Republicans—fearful of the impending Democratic blue wave—were desperately using every trick in the book to retain control of Congress and state governments. Suppression efforts targeting Black voters were seen most notably in Georgia, where Stacey Abrams was trying to make history as the first African-American woman governor.
The North Carolina hearing was expected to end on Wednesday. The outcome could lead to another election being held for the state’s 9th District House seat.