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Politics & Government

5 were indicted in alleged ballot fraud scheme. Now all have been arrested.

 
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Election fraud investigation

Read more about the investigation into the 9th Congressional District

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A North Carolina House bill aims to prevent absentee ballot fraud similar to the allegations made in the 9th Congressional District election. House Bill 944 would fund staff at the State Board of Elections.

North Carolina state elections officials Tuesday defended their investigation of the 9th District election fraud, even though Republicans questioned why they didn’t do more to stop it. They spoke at Davidson College.

Legislators on Wednesday offered supportive comments to officials from the North Carolina elections board, who proposed new methods for combating fraud and harsher punishment for people who break election laws.

An NC GOP email distorts the truth about the special election in the 9th Congressional District race. Republican Mark Harris called for a new election, and the North Carolina elections board ordered one.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, said a new Democratic bill would legalize the type of ballot harvesting that prompted a new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. PolitiFact checked.

The U.S. Justice Department has issued subpoenas in North Carolina’s 9th District election fraud case. The State Board of Elections received a subpoena. So did McCrae Dowless, the man already charged in the state investigation.

McCrae Dowless, Caitlyn Croom, Matthew Mathis, Rebecca D. Thompson and Tonia Gordon, indicted in an alleged Bladen County ballot fraud scheme in the 9th district, have been arrested around North Carolina.

In a speech that referenced North Carolina’s election fraud, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said absentee ballots aren’t trackable. PolitiFact asked the NC elections board about the Republican’s statement.

In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the election fraud case in North Carolina as a springboard to talk about how Republicans “for years” called for common sense safeguards against “voter fraud.”

Two potential Republican candidates for the 9th District special election say they won’t run to replace Mark Harris. North Carolina set the dates for the primary and general elections for Congress.

McCrae Dowless, the operative in 9th District election fraud case in North Carolina, has been arrested, charged in connection with absentee ballot collection. Republican Mark Harris was the apparent winner.

Republican Mark Harris announces that he won’t run in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, instead endorsing Stony Rushing, a Union County commissioner. Democrat Dan McCready has launched his campaign.

How Mark Harris of Charlotte went from pastor to a politician, whose apparent win in 9th Congressional District became part of an election fraud investigation. State Board of Elections called for a new election.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said her investigation into absentee ballot irregularities is near the end. Mark Harris, the Republican congressional candidate, called for a new election Thursday.

Former North Carolina Gov Pat McCrory, a Republican, won’t run for Congress in the state’s 9th District, three days after State Board of Elections ordered a new election. McCrory is former mayor in Charlotte, NC.

Bladen County election workers saw early vote totals too early. But were results leaked? PolitiFact reviews testimony from the North Carolina fraud hearing in the Mark Harris vs. Dan McCready race.

Republican Mark Harris called for a new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, giving up on certification as winner in a race marked by voting irregularities in Bladen and Robeson counties.

Republican Mark Harris to testify at the North Carolina Board of Elections hearing on November 2018 general midterm election & vote fraud allegations in 9th District race. Harris faced Democrat Dan McCready.

Here are updates from testimony by Republican Mark Harris’ son at the North Carolina Board of Elections hearing on the November 2018 general midterm election & vote fraud allegations in 9th District race.

Here are updates on North Carolina Board of Elections hearing on November 2018 general midterm election & vote fraud allegations in 9th District race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.

Here are live updates on North Carolina Board of Elections hearing on November 2018 general midterm election & vote fraud allegations in 9th District race between Republican Mark Harris, Democrat Dan McCready.

Here are updates on North Carolina Board of Elections hearing on November 2018 general midterm election & vote fraud allegations in 9th District race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.

Here are live updates on North Carolina Board of Elections hearing on November 2018 general midterm election & vote fraud allegations in 9th District race between Republican Mark Harris, Democrat Dan McCready.

Here’s a timeline of events since results of the November 2018 general midterm election & vote fraud allegations in the 9th District race between North Carolina Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.

The state board of elections will decide what happens next in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The results of the 2018 election between Mark Harris and Dan McCready have not been certified.

Democrat Dan McCready has a lot more money than Republican Mark Harris going into any new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The result has been clouded by absentee ballot fraud allegations.

With an NC Board of Elections hearing coming up February 18 in 9th District congressional election fraud case, Republican Mark Harris has released list of possible subpoenas, including Democrat Dan McCready.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper named a new state elections board that will oversee the investigation into election fraud in the 9th District congressional race between Mark Harris and Dan McCready.

Former state elections board chairman Josh Malcolm, who started the 9th District probe, says he won’t serve on a reconstituted board. Malcolm was under fire from Republicans who accused him of trying to elect a Democrat.

North Carolina’s state board of elections will hold an evidentiary hearing about the disputed 2018 election in the 9th Congressional District between Mark Harris and Dan McCready.

The North Carolina elections board is investigating the Mark Harris vs Dan McCready race. No Bladen County voters called about possible fraud, according to NC GOP’s Dallas Woodhouse. PolitiFact fact checks it.

The Republican and Democratic nominees to a new NC State Board of Elections board hit a snag, hours before a deadline to appoint. The elections board is investigating fraud allegations in the 9th District.

This week, Republicans and Democrats released statements about the status of the NC elections board investigation into alleged fraud in the race between Mark Harris and Dan McCready. Here are the facts.

Republican Mark Harris said Friday he’s recovering from a severe infection that has left him hospitalized. Harris continues to unofficially lead the 9th District congressional race over Democrat Dan McCready in a contested election.

Democrat Dan McCready has raised $500,000 for a new campaign, though it’s unclear when or if there will be a special election in the 9th Congressional District. Allegations of fraud have clouded the election.

McCrae Dowless and Jens Lutz are key figures in the fight over election results in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. But the pair have a long, complicated history.

In a court hearing, an attorney for Republican Mark Harris asked a judge to intervene as the state elections board investigates potential election fraud in the 9th Congressional District Harris-McCready race.

The Justice Department official responsible for the prosecution of election crimes met with staff members of the North Carolina state board of elections about allegations of fraud in the 2016 election.

NC Republicans ratchet up their case to certify Republican Mark Harris in the 9th District, questioning why no evidence has emerged to prove that there was election fraud. Democrats say let the investigation continue.

Who are all the key players in the 9th District election fraud scandal? From pastor and Republican candidate Mark Harris to Bladen County political operative McCrae Dowless, here’s a cast of characters.

Republican Mark Harris said he doesn’t expect a new election in the 9th Congressional District, even though it’s unclear when or if his November election will be certified. Congress has refused to seat him.

Republican Mark Harris met with staff of the state board of elections on Thursday, the same day members of the new Congress were sworn in in Washington. Harris’ race in the 9th Congressional District has not been certified due to alleged election fraud.

In North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, it could be a long time before a new election takes place and a representative is seated. Republican Mark Harris is trying to force certification of his victory, but Democrat Dan McCready could still face him in a rematch.

In North Carolina’s 9th District, now under investigation, Dallas Woodhouse of the NC GOP said no elections protest was filed, Dan McCready conceded to Mark Harris and county boards certified the results.

Former NC Gov. Pat McCrory Wednesday ruled out running in the 9th District, but not for other offices in 2020 or 2022. The former governor said he wants to continue being a voice in public affairs.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Wednesday blamed Republicans for blocking a probe into fraud allegations in the 9th District. He said their failure to name members to the elections board puts a Jan. 11 hearing in doubt.

Mark Harris, who last week asked the state elections board to certify his disputed win in the 9th Congressional District, said Monday night that he plans to meet with elections staff this week.

Outgoing US Rep. Robert Pittenger said he won’t run if there’s a new primary in the 9th District. His comments came as the district’s election results are in flux.

As more details emerge about the North Carolina election board’s investigation into Bladen County election improprieties in 2016, unanswered questions linger: How did it happen again in 2018?

Democrat Dan McCready’s campaign listed 48 witnesses for the state board of elections to subpoena for a scheduled Jan. 11 hearing into possible election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

A court order triggered moves by Gov. Roy Cooper to continue the state election board’s probe of fraud allegations in the 9th District congressional race and by Charlotte Republican Mark Harris to be named winner.

Affidavits disclosed as part of an investigation into North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District race detail allegations of special access to confidential documents at the Bladen County Board of Elections.

In 2017, the NC State Board of Elections sent a letter to the US Attorney warning it had evidence that suggests “efforts to manipulate elections results through the absentee ballot process” in Bladen County.

The state elections board has extended its investigation into questions about absentee ballots to Columbus County, focusing in part on a contested sheriff’s race that has yet to be certified.

McCrae Dowless, a Bladen County political operative, paid workers to collect absentee ballots and return them to him before the 2016 election, witnesses told state board of election investigators.

Why didn’t the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics not move more aggressively after a 2016 investigation showed possible absentee ballot tampering by McCrae Dowless? The Bladen County GOP wants answers.

North Carolina’s disputed 9th District congressional election could leave the seat vacant for months, leaving more than 700,000 people without representation after the new Congress takes office Jan. 3.

Despite a criminal record and financial troubles, McCrae Dowless became a player in Bladen County politics. Now he is involved in the absentee ballots election scandal in North Carolina’s 9th district.

North Carolina congressional race results between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready for the 9th District House seat are delayed by fraud charges. What role did McCrae Dowless play in accusations?

There are lots of questions about what is happening — and what might happen — with the election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. CuriousNC, a joint venture between The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald-Sun invites readers to submit questions.

Investigators want to learn whether political operators illegally harvested absentee ballots in Bladen and neighboring Robeson County, leading to a fraud investigation that has the 9th District congressional race in limbo.

Amid an ongoing investigation into election fraud, North Carolina lawmakers this week opened the door to a new 9th District primary. That could be bad news for Republican Mark Harris, who won the election.

The North Carolina Board of Elections has been investigating ballot irregularities in the 9th Congressional District race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. The board will conduct a public evidentiary hearing in January.

McCrae Dowless, a person of interest in the North Carolina state board of elections investigation into possible election fraud in the 9th Congressional District, said he did not violate any campaign laws.

Who are Andy Yates and Red Dome Group, the political consulting firm tied to Mark Harris and McCrae Dowless? Yates, a prolific Republican operative, started Red Dome in 2013. He has worked for many Republican candidates.

Voter ID probably would not have changed the outcome of the 9th Congressional District election involving Mark Harris because the issue appears to stem from people collecting ballots, and not casting them.

The North Carolina 9th District Congressional race is still uncertain, with allegations of election fraud and absentee ballot tampering, but Republican candidate Mark Harris said....

Updated March 7 with new developments.

A little more than a week after a Wake County grand jury indicted five people on charges related to an alleged ballot-harvesting scheme in Bladen County, all of the accused have been arrested.

The State Bureau of Investigation arrested the alleged ringleader, Leslie McCrae Dowless, a 63-year-old political operative and elected official, last week. He made his initial appearance in court Tuesday, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said.

Dowless had been scheduled to appear in court March 25, but he received incorrect information from a magistrate and showed up weeks early, Freeman said. Since Dowless and his attorney, Cynthia Singletary, had driven hours from Bladen County, Freeman decided to go ahead with the hearing, she said.

Dowless faces three counts of felony obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of an absentee ballot. Under North Carolina law, a voter’s mail-in absentee ballot may be handled by others only in very limited circumstances.

The charges relate to the 2016 general election and 2018 primary. Charges stemming from the 2018 general election are expected to follow.

In 2018, Dowless’ most high-profile client was the Republican congressional candidate in the state’s 9th district, Mark Harris. The North Carolina State Board of Elections recently held a hearing about absentee ballot irregularities in that race and ordered a new election after about four days of testimony. The board’s unanimous vote came shortly after Harris conceded that a new election was warranted.

Dowless’ attorney, Singletary, told the board that Dowless would only testify if offered immunity from criminal prosecution. The board declined. Singletary has declined to comment on the criminal charges Dowless now faces.

Dowless is no longer in law enforcement custody. His $30,000 secured bond was paid by a prominent Elizabethtown businessman whose furniture shop is where Harris said he first met Dowless, BladenOnline.com reported.

Ray Britt, the owner of Ray’s Furniture and Jewelry Liquidators, a Bladen County commissioner and a former member of the Bladen County Board of Elections, told the news website that he collected money from several people who had an interest in Dowless working with his attorney and getting to the bottom of the allegations that have sullied the county’s reputation. Britt declined to name the other contributors. He did not return a call from The News & Observer.

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Authorities encouraged the other four people who have been indicted to turn themselves in, Freeman said Monday. She said arrest orders had also been issued.

Caitlyn Eugenia Croom, Matthew Monroe Mathis, Tonia Marie Gordon and Rebecca D. Thompson each face one count of felony conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of possession of absentee ballot. Mathis faces additional charges of falsely signing the voter certification on an absentee ballot.

The four had prearranged release conditions of $10,000 unsecured bond, Freeman said. That means that if they promise to appear in court, they can remain out of custody without paying the bond in advance.

Gordon, 41, turned herself in at the Bladen County magistrate’s office Tuesday, and Thompson, 41, did the same at the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, authorities said. Those arrests came after Croom, 23, turned herself in at the New Hanover County jail Sunday.

The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mathis, 25, “without incident” in that county on Tuesday, the SBI said in a news release Tuesday night.

Anjanette Grube, an SBI spokeswoman, had said the agency was working with local law enforcement. A spokesman for the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, Chief Deputy Larry Guyton, said Tuesday that his office was not involved.

Court records show that of those indicted, only Dowless had a previous felony conviction. He was convicted of felony perjury in 1990 and felony fraud in 1992.

Mathis has pending drug possession charges in Cumberland County, according to court records.

Gordon has pending charges in Bladen County related to driving without a valid license. She has repeatedly faced such charges. In 2002, Gordon was found guilty of criminal contempt, court records show.

Thompson was found guilty of injury to personal property in 2005, according to court records.

Database editor David Raynor contributed to this report.
 
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