Shady North Carolina election just got even shadier: Republican candidate knew suspected vote-rigger

Fear-mongering about non-existent voter fraud has become a staple of conservatism — and not just by President Alex Jones Donald Trump, the world’s most prominent promoter of baseless conspiracy theories.

Even supposedly “reasonable” Republicans like outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have amplified absurd claims of voter fraud following last month’s midterm elections.

But something seems a little fishy about Republican candidate Mark Harris’ narrow lead over Democrat Dan McCready in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district.

On Friday, the state’s Board of Elections decided it would not certify the results, citing an investigation into possible election fraud over voting irregularities and allegations of ballot tampering.

This still-undecided race became even more suspicious on Monday, as Popular Information’s Judd Legum — who founded ThinkProgress — obtained even more evidence of potential improprieties.

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve obtained images of 162 absentee ballot envelopes from North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district

One of the state’s top election law experts tell me the envelopes “fit into a pattern of fraud”

— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) December 3, 2018


2. In North Carolina mail-in absentee ballots need 2 witness signatures on the envelope. Just 8 people acted as witnesses for 130 of the ballots, many of whom are related to Leslie McCrae Dowless, the convicted felon who is at the center of the controversy

— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) December 3, 2018


3. Several people witnessed over 40 ballots.


1. There are affidavits saying canvassers collected unsealed ballots

2. Only 19% of absentees requested in Bladen were from Republicans, but the GOP candidate won 61% of the absentee vote

— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) December 3, 2018


Legum explained why the emergence of Leslie McCrae Dowless, who was an “independent contractor” for Harris’ campaign, is bad news for Republicans:

…Leslie McCrae Dowless, the man at the center of the controversy…has previously been convicted of felony fraud. In 2016, McCrae Dowless admitted to running an operation where he paid people for each absentee ballot they were able to collect. The operating allegedly involved paying “people to obtain absentee ballots, fill them out, and cast their votes on someone else’s behalf,” according to an exposé on This American Life.

Now the Charlotte Observer reports that Harris, a pastor who wishes anti-sodomy laws still existed, knew Dowless and recommended the “convicted felon who faced jail time for fraud and perjury” to other politicians.

Dowless has reportedly “been paid by at least nine candidates, all for get-out-the-vote work.”

North Carolina’s Board of Elections will hold a hearing later this month on evidence of suspected voter fraud during the race in the state’s 9th congressional district that stretches from Charlotte to rural central Carolina.

Though a new election is a highly uncommon resolution to a contested election, there is recent precedence, including a Georgia state House race earlier this year and a Louisiana judicial election last month.

Harris led by 905 votes after Election Day, but McCready — a U.S. Marines veteran and businessman — challenged the results.

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