Bladen County Political Operative Charged After Ballot Irregularities

Bladen County Political Operative Charged After Ballot Irregularities

12:28pm Feb 27, 2019
Attorney Cynthia Singletary, left, pauses as she speaks during a public hearing on the 9th Congressional District investigation in Raleigh, N.C. Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. stands nearby. (Juli Leonard/The News & Observer via AP, Pool)

An operative in North Carolina’s unresolved congressional race has been charged with obstruction and illegal ballot possession related to 2016 and 2018 elections .

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Wednesday that Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. was arrested after the grand jury indictments.

According to testimony and other findings detailed at an election board hearing last week, Dowless conducted an illegal “ballot harvesting” operation. He and his assistants are accused of gathering up absentee ballots from voters by offering to put them in the mail.

State law makes it illegal for anyone other than the voter or a close relative to handle a mail-in ballot.

Also charged were people Dowless allegedly paid in 2016 to collect ballots.

Dowless was working on behalf of Republican candidate Mark Harris, who had a slim lead in last November’s vote count before a new election was ordered.

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