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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

Get The 9th District Election Right, Even If It's Later Rather Than Sooner

Tommy Tomlinson

Over the holidays, while we were in Tennessee, a cousin looked at me and my wife and said, “So what’s going on with that Congressional race in North Carolina?”

We tried to explain. It took about half an hour.

Now we’re a week into the new year and things are not especially clearer. There’s still no official winner in the race for U.S. House District 9. There are still no official answers about of what kind of election fraud might have happened, or how much. And the North Carolina State Board of Elections, which might have been able to make sense of all this? Well, as of now, there is no North Carolina State Board of Elections. It has been dissolved due to a court’s ruling that the way the board was constructed for the last two years was unconstitutional.

Let’s all pause here for a second and take a long, heavy sigh.

Not surprisingly, Republican Mark Harris – who appeared to be the winner on election night – wants to go on up to Washington and do what newly elected officials do, which is start raising money for the next election. He has sued in state court to have the election certified. In the meantime, the House is run by the Democrats now, so they’re not inclined to seat Harris until they have to. It’s likely that Harris will have to run again against Democrat Dan McCready. He might have to even win a primary, because the primary vote might have been subject to the same absentee-ballot shenanigans that have put the general election into question. So we might have to go back to square one, including new candidates, but minus the incumbent, Robert Pittenger. He might be the smartest one in this whole thing, because he declared he wants no part of any of this.

This is one of those many situations where it’s better to be right than fast. The state has to figure out how to reconstitute the Board of Elections. The Board of Elections has to figure out what kind of fraud occurred, and what it means for the election. And most likely voters will have to go back to the polls, at least once and probably twice, to elect a winner fairly.

Yes, in the meantime, the 9th District will be without representation. But even with one empty seat in the House, I think the other 434 members might be able to get some work done.

However long it takes, let’s get this right and get it over with. I don’t know about you, but I’d just as soon not have to try to explain it again.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to his column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.