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NC's Madison Cawthorn Struggles To Answer Questions On State's Elections Fight

CNN's Pamela Brown interviewed U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R.-N.C., about his objections to Joe Biden's victory.
CNN's Pamela Brown interviewed U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R.-N.C., about his objections to Joe Biden's victory.

North Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn said in an interview with CNN that he wasn’t aware of the pre-election fight over absentee mail ballots in the state — despite the issue being the subject of numerous lawsuits between GOP legislative leaders and the Democratic-controlled state Board of Elections.

Cawthorn, who represents the state's 11th District in the mountains, then later praised Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for his role in election security before saying that the 2020 election was “not fraudulent.”

Cawthorn objected to the certification of now-President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Jan. 6. Earlier in the day, he spoke at the rally dubbed “Stop the Steal” and has been one of the most vociferous lawmakers questioning the election.

At the rally, he said that officials who wouldn’t object to the results are “cowards.”

But in the CNN interview, Cawthorn — who is the youngest member of Congress, at age 25 — struggled to answer reporter Pamela Brown’s questions about North Carolina election laws.

Pamela Brown presses Cawthorn: What was your research on voter fraud claims?

Cawthorn said he objected to the results from Wisconsin because the state Elections Commission had changed how the state’s election was conducted. He said that should have been handled by the state legislature.

Brown asked Cawthorn why he didn’t object to North Carolina’s results. Donald Trump won the state, and Cawthorn won his first term in November.

“I’m not aware of the laws that were changed in North Carolina,” he said. “I believe we had a very safe and very secure election.”

Brown told him there had been several rule changes, including an extension that allowed mail ballots to be counted so long as they arrived by Nov. 12.

And there were other disputed changes, mostly centered around how mail ballots with minor administrative problems could be fixed, or “cured” by voters. Republicans in the General Assembly accused Cooper and the elections board of working with Democratic attorney Marc Elias to, in their words, rewrite the state’s elections laws.

The fight over mail ballots was a major news story throughout the fall.

Cawthorn then said he thought “I believe our (elections) standards are some of the greatest in the country.”

He added: “Our elections board is second to none. Roy Cooper did make sure we had a safe and secure election.”

Cawthorn then said that the 2020 election was fair.

“Yes, I think I would say the election was not fraudulent,” he said. “The Constitution allowed for us to be able to push back.”

He added: “Now I would say Joseph R. Biden is our president.”

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.