The Latest: Fraud investigation spills into voter ID debate

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the North Carolina 9th Congressional District race (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

The investigation into allegations of absentee voter fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District has spilled over into debate among legislators about a bill implementing a new constitutional amendment that requires photo identification to vote in person.

A state House committee voted along party lines Tuesday for a measure that lays out the types of qualifying photo IDs and the exceptions to the constitutional mandate.

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An amendment approved by the committee would require most people who use mail-in absentee ballots to include a photocopy of a qualifying ID in the ballot envelope or show the ID to county elections officials later. That would appear to mute some criticism that Republican leaders have avoided clamping down on absentee ballot fraud.

House Minority Leader Darren Jackson voted against the legislation and says the measure still doesn’t address the problems like those the 9th District investigation is examining.

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3:30 p.m.

A top House Democrat says North Carolina needs to resolve allegations of voter fraud before Republican Mark Harris can join Congress.

Incoming Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Tuesday that a “very substantial question” about fraud exists. Unofficial ballot totals show Harris, a Baptist minister, leading Democrat Dan McCready, an Iraq War veteran, by 905 votes. Hoyer says he hopes state officials “get to the bottom” of the controversy. He says Harris is “not eligible for being sworn into the House” at this point.

State election officials have refused to certify the results amid allegations of voter irregularities involving mail-in ballots. The elections board has said it will hold a hearing on the allegations on or before Dec. 21. The board can call for a new election if it finds problems.

Hoyer was discussing whether the House Administration Committee, which has some authority over determining the propriety of elections, will get involved.

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1: 15 p.m.

One of the nation’s last unresolved fall congressional races is awash in doubt as North Carolina election investigators concentrate on a rural county where absentee-ballot fraud allegations are so flagrant they’ve put the Election Day result into question.

Final unofficial ballot totals had shown Republican Mark Harris ahead of Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the 9th Congressional District, which covers nine south-central counties.

But the state elections board refused to certify the results last week with all the other Election Day contests, with the board’s new chairman pointing to “claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities” involving mail-in ballots.

The probe appears connected to the activities of a longtime political operative from Bladen County, where allegations about mail-in absentee ballots initially surfaced two years ago.

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