The Latest: NC official says US House race saw ballot scheme

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on an evidentiary hearing outlining a ballot fraud investigation in an undeclared North Carolina congressional race for which a winner hasn’t been finalized (all times local):

11 a.m.

North Carolina’s elections director says investigators found a “coordinated, unlawful absentee ballot scheme” in two rural counties in the country’s only unsettled congressional election.

Kim Strach described the investigation at the opening of a state elections board hearing Tuesday into ballot fraud in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district. Republican Mark Harris holds a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready in unofficial results, but the election wasn’t certified. The board is expected to either certify a winner in the race or order a new election after the hearing.

Strach says a political operative working for Harris paid people $125 for every 50 mail-in ballots they collected from voters in Bladen and Robeson counties. Officials say the ballots were in unsealed envelopes, meaning they could have been altered before being counted.

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1:20 a.m.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections is holding a hearing on ballot fraud allegations in the nation’s last undecided congressional election.

The multiday hearing starting Monday will include the results of a monthslong investigation into allegations that a political operative tampered with mail-in ballots in a rural county.

Republican Mark Harris holds a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready in unofficial results, but the state has refused to certify the election.

At the end of the process, the board is expected to either certify a winner in the race or order a new election.

And depending on the outcome, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives could also step in with constitutional powers that make it the final judge of the elections and qualifications of its members.

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