A North Carolina woman testified Monday that she illegally picked up and falsified absentee ballots in a 2018 congressional election under the direction of a political operative who was working on behalf of the race's Republican candidate.
The hearing is to investigate alleged election fraud in North Carolina's 9th district.
The race wasn't certified, leaving the country's only congressional election without a declared victor.
The state has twice refused to declare Harris the victor, after hearing reports of irregularities just before the election in rural Bladen County, where Dowless lives. The hearing resumes on Tuesday. The State Board of Elections has not certified unofficial results that showed Republican Mark Harris narrowly beating Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. Amar Majmundar, the election board attorney, said "the number of disputed votes more than sufficiently" call the margin of Harris' election-night lead "into question, "according to Politico".
"Basically what we would do - what I would do - is to submit the vote for whoever was the Republican", Britt testified.
It's illegal in North Carolina for anyone other than a guardian or close family member to handle a voter's ballot.
Dowless was called to testify late Monday, but his attorney said he wouldn't do it without legal protection against prosecution for events he described.
Britt said in her testimony she was paid by Dowless, her former stepfather, to collect absentee ballots.
"As long as we all stick together we'll all be fine, because they don't have anything on us", she said he told them.
While Dowless and Harris' main campaign consultant were in constant contact, she didn't have any indication Harris knew about the operation, Britt said.
Three months after the midterm elections, voters in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District may finally find out who their congressperson will be, or whether they will need to head to the polls again.
Dowless's lawyer, Cynthia Adams Singletary, said afterward that "he hasn't done anything wrong". Officials say the ballots were in unsealed envelopes, meaning they could have been altered before being counted.
The operation's scope allowed Dowless to collect almost $84,000 in consulting fees over five months leading into last year's general election, said Strach, adding that in addition to reviewing financial and phone records investigators questioned 142 voters in the south-central North Carolina counties.
Ms. Britt said Mr. Harris was not personally involved.
"Our findings to date suggest that individuals and potentially groups of individuals engaged in efforts to manipulate election results through the absentee ballot process", wrote board of elections executive director Kim Strach in January 2017.
Strach was expected to touch on the unreturned ballots later in the hearing.
Republicans have pushed for that outcome, while Democrats want a new election.