‘Real election fraud is playing out right before us’ in North Carolina, and it’s not the first time

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 26: Republican Congressional candidate for North Carolina's 9th district Mark Harris (C), addresses the crowd as President Donald Trump (L) and Republican Congressional candidate for North Carolina's 13th district Ted Budd (R), listen at the Bojangles Coliseum on October 26, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. President Trump visited Charlotte to campaign for 9th District House candidate Mark Harris. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Mark Harris

The more you look at the election fraud story in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, the worse it gets. In addition to the absentee ballots that Leslie McCrae Dowless and his band of associates collected unsealed and witnessed and turned in themselves, the group may have collected and destroyed ballots from likely Democratic voters—possibly more than a thousand of them. That’s in a race where Republican Mark Harris leads by just over 900 votes.

Harris denies any knowledge of wrongdoing, although his campaign’s major contractor paid Dowless for get out the vote work, and Dowless had a track record:

In 2010, Harold “Butch” Pope, who paid Dowless $6,700, won 81% of the absentee votes cast there in a race for district attorney — but only 26% of those cast outside Bladen County.

In 2012, state House candidate Ken Waddell, who paid Dowless more than $6,800, won 55% of the absentee vote in Bladen County and just 42% of the absentee vote outside the county.

In 2016, Todd Johnson, a Republican who paid Dowless nearly $6,500 as he opposed Rep. Robert Pittenger in a primary, won 221 of the 226 absentee ballots cast in the district — even as Johnson finished third in the primary. Johnson did not respond to requests for comment Monday and Tuesday.

Not only that, but candidates who paid Dowless less tended to see less of a bump in Bladen County absentee ballots. In short, people who hired Dowless had to know what they were doing. The track record was right there to see—and in fact, was questioned by the state elections board and more or less admitted what he was doing on a radio show back in 2016. Harris doesn’t have a whole lot of plausible deniability here.

The election hasn’t been certified as the situation is investigated. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) is calling for an emergency hearing in the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, saying that “real election fraud is playing out right before us.”

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