Moments after 16-year-old Kristen Snyder of Charlotte got her driver’s license, she skipped cruising around with friends and instead knocked on doors for Mark Harris, inspired by his conservative message and positive outlook.
Chris Poulton had never been involved in politics before the 2016 campaign. Both the president and Mark Harris drew him in, and the 35-year-old with two full-time jobs was hooked. Volunteering for the Harris campaign and others became his passion.
Ryan Martin, a Fayetteville-area Grey’s Creek High Schooler, whose ambition is to join the military, found a calling to volunteer for Mark Harris during the 2018 election cycle. He enjoyed knocking on doors and talking to voters about national security issues.
Across North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, hundreds of honest, hardworking, dedicated activists with the North Carolina Republican Party made phone calls and went door to door to support Mark Harris. They did this for one simple reason: they believe that the public policy positions of Rev. Harris are better for their families, the state and the nation.
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Young staffers with the party got their first taste of politics working for a candidate they believed in. I still remember my first experience in politics, over 40 years ago, when I was asked to run for the Concord City Council. These young people, much like myself, will be hooked on politics and civic leadership for the rest of their lives. They will never forget their first campaign. These people dedicate their time, energy, funds and hearts for the right reasons.
Contrast these folks with the paid political mercenaries working in Bladen and Robeson counties. They are a scourge on our democracy and should be fully prosecuted by state and federal authorities. They just care about getting paid.
We understand why The Charlotte Observer has called for a new election. We read the same news, and we are horrified and disgusted by it. The NCGOP had no knowledge of, did not participate in or fund and had absolutely no involvement in the absentee ballot operations currently under review. We work with good volunteers like Kristen Snyder, Chris Poulton and Ryan Martin.
We can’t join The Charlotte Observer in calling for a new election yet, but we owe it to the 285,000 people that cast legal votes to let the State Board of Elections’ investigators get to the bottom of this and announce their findings. They should lay out all the facts for all to see in the most transparent way possible. If the facts show a new election is necessary, we will not oppose. If the non-partisan investigators need more time, they should have more time.
We have already secured legislation increasing security measures for absentee balloting. When the new legislature reconvenes, we will be asking for harsher punishments for systemic abuses of the process, including “ballot harvesting.”
There has been a systematic failure to fix this problem going back more than a decade, involving three different North Carolina governors of both parties, several different county boards of elections, countless local, state and federal prosecutors and both major political parties. We all share blame.
Now the failures must turn into action. This is a national embarrassment that can never be allowed to repeat itself. The governor must lead Democrats, Republicans, and all interested North Carolina citizens through a broad-based public accounting leading to serious reforms. We will help in any way we can.
We owe that to all citizens, and to our future leaders who are watching to see if we can rise to the occasion together.