The North Carolina governor’s race hit a new snag this week. A protest was filed Wednesday alleging that fraudulent absentee ballots were cast for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper in Halifax county. Similar protests are being filed in 10 other counties.

According to Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign, the protest alleges a “massive scheme to run an absentee ballot mill involving hundreds of ballots, perpetrated by and through the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC.”

Russell Peck, campaign manager for McCrory, said it appears their worst fears have come true.

“This absentee ballot fraud scheme may run deeper than just Bladen County,” he said. “Unfortunately, we may also have uncovered the real reason Roy Cooper fought so hard against efforts to prevent voter fraud as attorney general.”

The ballots first came to the attention of officials when a candidate for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor complained that hundreds of the documents appeared to have similar handwriting patterns on the signatures.

The investigation could take months to complete before the race is certified. John Rustin with the North Carolina Family Policy Council said the investigation will be a true test of the system.

“The right to vote in our country is fundamental,” he said, “and the confidence of the voters in the electoral process is essential to the proper working of our American form of government. Every legitimate vote must be counted, and any and all efforts to defraud the system must be eliminated, no matter how long it takes.”