The Republican candidate who won in November likely won’t be seated before an official hearing in January.

The new Congress will be seated in a matter of days — but it is almost certain that the seat from the North Carolina Ninth Congressional District will be left empty, as more evidence of a brazen vote-tampering scheme piles up.

The bipartisan state elections board has refused to certify the results of Republican Mark Harris’s win and instead set a hearing on the election fraud scandal for January 11, a week after new members are sworn in.

Harris beat Democrat Dan McCready by roughly 900 votes on Election Day. But those results have been marred by explosive allegations that an operative working for the Harris campaign collected, tampered with or even destroyed absentee ballots. The alleged plot is now the subject of a state inquiry; the findings of the state investigation will be presented at the hearing next month.

Depending on the outcome, a new election could be called. The state board has broad discretion under state law to call a new election if the basic fairness of the November vote is in doubt.

The evidence continues to pile up. On Christmas Eve, Joe Bruno, a reporter for the local news outlet WSOC, added another piece to the puzzle. Three voters testified in sworn affidavits that they had filled out their absentee ballots and then given them to a person who came to their house and promised to deliver the ballots to state officials to be counted.

Bruno checked public voting records and found that none of those voters had actually had their ballots counted.

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