A congressional race in North Carolina in which the candidates are within a thousand votes of one another is now being investigated over significant evidence of voter fraud in one particular county, according to Popular Information.
About the race: North Carolina's 9th District features Republican Mark Harris against Democrat Dan McCready. Harris is leading by 905 votes. However, the North Carolina State Board of Elections has refused to certify the race due to irregularities involving mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen County.
What's going on with the ballots? Bladen County stood out because even though Republicans only requested 19 percent of the mail-in absentee ballots in the county, Harris won 61 percent of the mail-in absentee vote. Meanwhile, McCready won the mail-in absentee vote in every other county.
What's the evidence of fraud? Popular Information obtained photocopies of 162 absentee ballot envelopes, which are typically public record from the election board. In order to vote by mail, a voter must sign the envelope and have two witnesses sign as well.
Out of the 162 absentee ballots envelopes Popular Information reviewed, 130 of them were signed by just eight different witnesses, with each of those eight signing between 10 and 45 of the envelopes, and some of the eight often pairing up on dozens envelopes.
Five of the eight witnesses who signed most of the envelopes list the same address. WSOC-TV looked into it, and it's a one bedroom apartment that only one of the witnesses lives at.
One of those witnesses, Ginger Eason, told a WSOC reporter that she was paid to go pick up and act as a witness for absentee ballots. That's a problem, since a coordinated effort to collect absentee ballots is illegal, and Eason herself admitted that she can't confirm that all ballots made it to the Board of Elections.
Who is behind this? Several pieces of evidence point to Leslie McCrae Dowless, a man who was convicted of felony fraud in 2016 and has admitted to paying people for filling out or collecting absentee ballots in the past.
Eason named Dowless as the one who was paying her for her work, and several of the witnesses are related to him. Dowless had no comment when a WSOC reporter finally caught up with him.
WSOC reported that Dowless has been hired by numerous campaigns over the year to help "get out the vote." A review of voting records shows that past candidates Dowless has worked on behalf of have won disproportionate percentages of the Bladen County vote.