Maryland GovPics / Flickr voting...
Maryland GovPics / Flickr

The congressional race in North Carolina’s 9th district continues to unravel as there is mounting evidence of serious felony fraud. Observers noted the unusual discrepancy in the absentee ballot return rate, particularly in two counties: Robeson and Bladen. From WFAE:

Bladen and Robeson also stand out statewide, according to an analysis by Catawba College political science professor Michal Bitzer.

He found there were about 19,400 absentee ballots by mail statewide that were requested but not returned for the Nov. 6 election.

Robeson had 10 percent of those statewide non-returned ballots, and Bladen County had 8 percent of the non-returned ballots. That’s 3,404 ballots.

Thousands of outstanding ballots. Enough to swing the race.

At the center of it all is Leslie McCrae Dowless, an “independent contractor” for Republican candidate Mark Harris. Dowless was hired for get-out-the-vote work, despite his shady history. From the Charlotte Observer:

Over the last two decades, he has been paid by at least nine candidates, all for get-out-the-vote work, according to state records.

Leslie McCrae Dowless was convicted of felony fraud in 1992 in Iredell County, according to court records. Dowless and his wife were accused of taking out an insurance policy on a dead man and collecting nearly $165,000 from his death, according to a 1991 Fayetteville Observer article. He served more than six months of a two-year prison sentence, according to court records.

Dowless, now 62, was convicted of felony perjury in 1990, according to court records.

A second woman confirms she was paid to collect absentee ballots and it isn’t the first time she’s done it.

Reporter Joe Bruno of WSOC has been tracking down McCrae Dowless and the contractors he subsequently hired to show up at people’s homes to collect their absentee ballots and/or fill them in for voters. There is serious concern that many of these ballots never made it to election officials. Bruno tracked down the people repeatedly listed as ballot witnesses on absentee ballots, eventually landing on the front porch of Ginger Eason, who readily admitted she was “harvesting” absentee ballots. Watch this extraordinary moment:

More from Joe Bruno’s report at WSOC:

No one answered at Woody Hester’s home. James Singletary wasn’t home either and Lisa Britt doesn’t live at the address she said she did on the ballots.

Bruno then visited Ginger Eason. She told him why her name appeared so many times as a witness.

“I was helping McCrae pick up ballots,” Eason said.

Eason said Leslie McCrae Dowless, Jr. paid her $75 to $100 a week to go around and pick up finished absentee ballots.

Ginger Eason and seven others were repeatedly listed as ballot witnesses.

Five of the ballot witnesses listed the same home address, a one bedroom apartment.

The election in North Carolina’s 9th District is an absolute fraud. Not only should there be a serious criminal investigation, there should absolutely be a new election. And if that happens, as observers say it should, Republicans might be stuck with their fraudulent candidate.

Mark Harris isn’t the only North Carolina Republican to have hired McCrae Dowless to “get-out-the-vote.” In fact, he’s racked up quite the clientele list. 

According to campaign finance reports, Dowless’ first major race was in 2010, working for Harold Butch Pope’s campaign for Bladen County district attorney.

The Pope campaign paid Dowless $7,127 over the course of the year.

A majority of the payments were for “get out the vote” efforts. Pope defeated Jon David by more than 4,000 votes.

Over the next couple of years, Dowless was paid thousands of dollars for get out the vote efforts and, at times, campaign manager for eastern North Carolina candidates Wesley Meredith, Al Leonard, Ken Waddell, and William Brisson.

Dowless’ candidates have not been limited to eastern North Carolina.

He was paid $800 for “consulting fees” for Republican Charlotte City Council candidate Pete Givens. Mark Harris, a friend of Givens, did a fundraiser and campaigned for him.

Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker, also a Dowless client, deleted his Facebook page after inquiries began. Not a good look for a law enforcement officer.

This story appears to be getting larger by the minute. Will it become national news and get the attention it deserves? Election theft is damn serious business. As you can see from the tweet above, North Carolina GOP Chair Dallas Woodhouse is taking a partisan approach and alleging Democrats are trying to steal the election from Mark Harris. When this all shakes down, Republicans are going to be in serious need of top-to-bottom housecleaning. North Carolina deserves better.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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