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US: New election ordered in disputed North Carolina House race | USA News

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The elections board in the US state of North Carolina has ordered a new vote in the country’s last undecided congressional race after officials said corruption surrounding absentee ballots tainted the results of last November’s vote.

The five-member State Board of Elections on Thursday unanimously backed new polls in the 9th Congressional District but did not immediately set a date.

In making the motion to order a new election, election board chairman Bob Cordle cited “the corruption, the absolute mess with the absentee ballots”.

“It certainly was a tainted election,” Cordle said. “The people of North Carolina deserve a fair election.”

The panel’s vote came after Republican candidate Mark Harris, in a surprising move, dropped his bid to be declared the winner and instead said he believed a new election should be held.

His change of stance came on the fourth day of an election board hearing at which investigators and witnesses detailed evidence of ballot fraud by operatives on his payroll.

“Through the testimony I’ve listened to over the past three days, I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said. “It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.”

At the same time, Harris denied any knowledge of the illegal practices allegedly used by his operatives.

Harris left the hearing room without answering questions. It was not immediately clear whether he intends to run in a new election.

The decision on Thursday could leave the seat empty for months. The elections board’s lawyer plans to review the laws on scheduling new primaries and a new general election and propose dates to the board for its approval.

Harris led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes out of about 280,000 cast, in a mostly rural district that includes part of Charlotte and extends eastwards through several counties along the southern edge of North Carolina. But the state refused to certify the outcome as allegations surfaced that Harris political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless may have tampered with mail-in absentee ballots.

The congressional seat has been in Republican hands since 1963.

North Carolina Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse said he learned of Harris’ decision only minutes before. “There’s no way that anybody has contemplated what’s next,” he said.

Harris told the board that he was still dealing from health problems caused by a blood infection that landed him in a hospital and led to two strokes since the election, adding, “I struggled this morning with both recall and confusion.”

But he insisted: “Neither I nor any of the leadership of my campaign were aware of or condoned the improper activities that have been testified to in this hearing.”

According to testimony and other findings detailed at the board hearing, Dowless conducted an illegal “ballot harvesting” operation while working for Harris. Dowless and his assistants helped voters obtain absentee ballots and then gathered up the filled-in ballots from them by offering to put them in the mail, the board was told.

Dowless’ workers in rural Bladen County testified that they were directed to collect blank or incomplete ballots from voters, forge signatures on them and even fill in votes for local candidates. It is generally against the law in North Carolina for anyone other than the voter or a family member to handle someone’s completed ballot.

Earlier on Thursday, Harris testified that Dowless had assured him that he would not collect absentee ballots in violation of state law. “I’ll never forget. He said it again and again. He said, ‘We do not take the ballot,'” Harris testified.

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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