Woman says GOP consultant paid her to illegally collect absentee ballots in North Carolina congressional race

Woman tells North Carolina TV station she was paid to collect absentee ballots
(Image credit: Screenshot/WSOC-TV)

North Carolina's Board of Elections has refused to certify the results of the U.S. House race in the 9th Congressional District, citing irregularities with mail-in absentee ballots. Those irregularities appears to center around a man named Leslie McCrae Dowless, a campaign consultant and the elected vice chairman of the Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Republican Mark Harris, who appeared to have defeated Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes, hired Dowless as "an independent contractor who worked on grassroots for the campaign, independent of the campaign," Harris strategist Andy Yates told The Charlotte Observer. Dowless, who goes by McCrae, was paid by Red Dome Group, a firm founded by Yates that was dissolved in mid-2017, according to the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office. Dowless was convicted of felony perjury and felony insurance fraud in the 1990s and served more than six months of a two-year sentence.

Dowless appears to have organized "a targeted effort to illegally pick up ballots, in which even the person picking them up had no idea whether those ballots were even delivered to the elections board," WSOC-TV reports. He declined to answer questions from WSOC's Joe Bruno, but Bruno did get on-camera confirmation from a woman named Ginger Eason that Dowless paid her to pick up absentee ballots and deliver them to him. She said Dowless did not inform her that collecting absentee ballots violated North Carolina law.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Eason was among a handful of people who signed as witnesses on dozens of absentee ballots, according to WSOC's tally — one of the several red flags from Bladen County's absentee returns. Lisa Britt, who witnessed at least 42 absentee ballots and apparently doesn't live at the address she listed on the ballots, is Dowless' step-daughter, according to journalist Judd Legum. You can learn more about the irregularities at The Charlotte Observer and in WSOC's report below. Peter Weber

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us