A Monday hearing of the North Carolina’s elections board concluded that there was evidence of election fraud on behalf of Republican Mark Harris.
Elections officials had yet to certify the results of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District race, after allegations of fraud followed Harris, who technically won by less than 1,000 ballots. Republican operative Leslie McCrae Dowless — who is also a convicted felon — was accused of ballot tampering, potentially invalidating thousands of absentee ballots. The allegations were so damning that the Charlotte Observer’s editorial board called for a new election in a December editorial.
Kim Strach, the executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, stated that they had uncovered evidence showing that Dowless, while working on behalf of Mark Harris’ campaign, had paid cash to other operatives to go door-to-door to collect requests for absentee ballots, and to collect the ballots themselves. Dowless was accused of falsifying signatures on incomplete and/or blank ballots. Others working for Dowless also falsely stated that there were at least two witnesses on every absentee ballot signature, which is required by state elections law.
In the hearing, Strach detailed the numerous steps Dowless and his team took to conceal their actions:
Strach said Dowless took several steps to conceal the fraud. Those measures included using the same color ink as the voter who filled out other parts of the ballot, mailing the ballot from a post office close to the voter and placing the stamps on the envelopes in a certain way not to raise red flags.
Lisa Britt, a Dowless employee, testified at the hearing that she was paid to go out and help voters ask for absentee ballots and to collect the absentee ballots themselves. Britt, whose mother was married to Dowless decades ago, said she received $150 to $175 for every 50 request forms she turned in. She said she was initially paid about $125 for every 50 absentee ballots she turned in, but later that was turned into a weekly fee because it was more difficult to get people to hand over their absentee ballots.
While the Monday hearing was not to call for a new election, it’s expected that the elections board will call a new election in the wake of the evidence. Democrat Dan McCready, who narrowly lost to Harris in November, tweeted a Bible verse about perseverance prior to the hearing.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.