LUMBERTON, N.C. ― McCrae Dowless, the political operative at the center of an election fraud investigation in North Carolina’s ninth Congressional District, now seems to be linked to each counties within the district the place a suspiciously excessive variety of absentee ballots have been by no means returned to election officers.
The North Carolina Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement is wanting into the irregularities in Bladen and Robeson counties, neighboring rural jurisdictions close to the South Carolina border, the place 40 % and 62 % of absentee ballots, respectively, weren’t returned. In Bladen County, Dowless staff informed native tv station WSOC and BuzzFeed News that they collected absentee ballots from folks and gave them to Dowless, which violates state regulation.
Dowless was employed by a guide to work on behalf of Republican Mark Harris, who appeared to defeat Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes within the election. McCready, nevertheless, withdrew his concession to Harris on Thursday amid the continuing investigation.
There’s now new proof that hyperlinks Dowless to Robeson County and suggests he employed no less than one particular person there: Jennifer Boyd, who served as one among two legally required witnesses for an unusually high number of individuals, 55, after they crammed out their absentee ballots, in response to a WSOC overview of the kinds. She indicated she helped 52 of them fill out their ballots. The staff who labored for Dowless in Bladen County additionally served as witnesses for an unusually excessive variety of voters. Absentee ballots in North Carolina require two witnesses’ signatures.
Boyd additionally listed Dowless’ workplace deal with when she dropped off over 230 voter registration kinds on the Robeson County Board of Elections in September, in response to board information reviewed by HuffPost. The second witness on lots of the absentee kinds Boyd signed was Lisa Britt, who informed BuzzFeed she labored for Dowless. An worker on the Robeson County Board of Elections, who agreed to be recognized solely as a workers member, informed HuffPost she believed Boyd was working with Dowless.
The information HuffPost reviewed on the Robeson County Board of Elections on Thursday didn’t comprise proof of wrongdoing. One log confirmed Boyd dropped off solely 4 absentee ballots through the election and that they have been from herself, her husband and her husband’s dad and mom. North Carolina regulation permits somebody to show in an absentee poll on behalf of a “close relative.”
Nobody answered the door at Boyd’s dwelling Thursday. She informed WSOC she was attempting to help individuals who didn’t have time to go to the polls however declined to remark when requested if she labored for Dowless.
There isn’t any proof that the irregularities in absentee poll returns modified the end result of the race. It’s unclear what number of ballots may very well be affected and if any ballots have been really tampered with.
However the numbers are uncommon. Harris won 61 percent of the absentee-by-mail vote in Bladen County, despite the fact that simply 19 % of the returned and accepted ballots got here from Republicans. In Robeson County, McCready received the general mail-in absentee vote, however the 62 % non-return fee was remarkably greater than every other county within the district.
State investigators can order a brand new election if “irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the outcomes of the complete election and solid doubt on its equity.”
Robeson County noticed a surge in requests for absentee ballots this summer time, which was unusually early, Steve Stone, chairman of the county board of elections, stated in an interview Thursday. The board additionally received a rash of calls from residents who stated that canvassers informed them their voter registration had been canceled, Stone stated, and he alerted the North Carolina State Board of Elections of the irregularities this summer time.
The Robeson County board workers member stated she didn’t suppose that surge was because of folks working for Dowless. A special group, she stated, dropped off batches of lots of of voter registration functions and vote-by-mail requests from August to October.
- This text initially appeared on HuffPost.