CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Republican Mark Harris, whose 2018 campaign was at the center of ballot fraud indictments, tells Queen City News he’s doing things differently in his campaign for Congress in 2024. 

Harris’ U.S. House victory in November 2018 was short-lived. His campaign for the District 9 seat in Bladen County became the center of allegations of absentee ballot fraud, which eventually led to indictments for others involved and a new election. 

Now Harris is running again for District 8, which includes much of the old District 9, but doesn’t extend as far east into Bladen County. Dan Bishop currently holds the seat but is running for state attorney general.

In 2018, the state Board of Elections refused to certify Harris’ win, and in early 2019 held a hearing over the ballot fraud claims. 

Testimony included people saying they worked for Harris’ political operative McCrae Dowless collecting ballots and, in some cases, falsifying signatures, both of which are illegal. 

Harris took the stand and under oath called for a new election. 

“Through the testimony I’ve listened to over the past three days, I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said at the 2019 hearing. 

Queen City News Anchor Robin Kanady asked Harris, “Now you’re saying that the election was stolen. How can you say that?”  

His response: “To be clear, I said there was a manufactured scandal that led to not certifying my race. There was so much that was not shared in the hearing.” 

Harris later explained in the interview that he believes there were few irregularities in his election. 

“Do you know how many ballots people were charged with mishandling or that kind of thing? Ten, in my election. It was 10 ballots,” Harris said. 

Dowless and others were criminally charged related to elections in 2016 and 2018. 

Dowless died of lung cancer while awaiting trial. 

In 2020 the District Attorney announced she was closing the case against Harris, saying the fact that he gave up his seat and did not run in the new election helped restore confidence in voters. 

Kanady asked Harris, “Your campaign was charged with cheating and your campaign’s actions led to a new election, so how can people trust you that you won’t hire people who hire people who shouldn’t be in the campaign?”  

Harris said he’s made some adjustments since the controversial campaign. 

“Well, I certainly have said, and I mean this very clearly looking back, I wish that we had someone from a legal position to guide every decision that was made in the campaign, and we do have that kind of legal backing that we will be working with throughout this campaign,” he said. 

Harris faced some major medical issues back in 2019 in the middle of the hearing in Raleigh. 

Back then, he says he developed sepsis and almost died. 

When asked about his current health, Harris says he’s going for checkups with his doctor and is physically doing fine.