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ONLY ON 3: "Get Out the Vote" workers with criminal backgrounds


It's called Get Out The Vote, and the practice is alive and well here. Campaign finance records show Butch Pope, the Democratic candidate for District Attorney of Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus Counties, spent $15,000 paying people to round up votes for him during the primary election. Sometimes, that means glad-handing at the polls, other times, get out the vote workers drive voters to the polls.

"Dollar for dollar, I think it's more effective because it's more personal," Pope told us, explaining why he utilizes Get Out The Vote. "They talk to the voters as they come up, they speak to them, they know them, I think it's just good old, down home southern politics."

Get out the vote tactics are legal, and commonplace, especially in rural areas like Bladen County. But Pope's opponent, Jon David, has a big problem with the way he's trying to win this election.

"The practice raises serious questions," David told us, "because ultimately what it does is transfer power away from the voters to make an important decision, and lets a small group of people who don't have the best interest of the community at heart, but their own financial interest at stake, to dictate who becomes important leaders in their community."

One thing we uncovered that's somewhat concerning in a district attorney's race - many of the people Pope has hired to round up votes have criminal records. Pope paid the most money, about $5,000, to McCrae Dowless, a big player in the Bladen County get out the vote arena. But we found out Dowless has a rap sheet, including previous arrests for assault on a female, and felony fraud charges. One has to ask, is this the person you want doing your bidding if you're campaigning to run the area's law and order system?

"They're not decision makers," Pope explained. "They are not influential in my campaign certainly, but they know where the precincts are - they know where to be, what time, they know how to do these kinds of things. The fact they had a criminal record. I think Mr. Dowless may have had a criminal conviction 20 years ago or more, and he's paid his dues. That doesn't bother me."

Jon David says Bladen County deserves better. "The district attorney should set the standard for what it means to be fair and above board in his dealings," he said. "As a candidate, I am prepared to answer any questions that you have about how I get my money, or how I spend the money, because after all, how you run for office says a lot about how you're going to run the office when you get there."

It's not just McCrae Dowless who has a criminal record. Pope, and a number of other high profile candidates running for election in Bladen County, have hired Levi Roberts for their get out the vote efforts. Roberts has a lengthy criminal record, including charges for going armed to the terror of the public, two counts of assault on a female, drug charges, and 6 arrests for drunk driving. So you might find it a little concerning that Pope gave Roberts gas money to help with his campaign.

Pope says he wasn't aware of Roberts legal issues. "I would certainly look into that," Pope told NewsChannel 3. "If someone was driving someone to the polls and they had a drivers license problem, I'd look into that."

We tried to reach McCrae Dowless and Levi Roberts for this story. Dowless originally agreed to an interview, saying he had nothing to hide, but called to cancel our interview the morning of. He did tell us over the phone that the Get Out the Vote effort is an important means of improving voter turnout in Bladen County.

The State Board of Elections investigators who are looking into complaints surrounding the Bladen elections say Get Out the Vote campaigns are not unusual, and are an effective way for candidates to maximize voter turnout. However, investigators tell us it is unusual for candidates to be hiring people with criminal records.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.



First off, you my friend should know better than to act out so immaturely and oblivious. I am guessing you know nothing about Butch Pope and would make the wrong decision at the polls because of your irresponsibilty to educate yourself on the experience of the candidates. Rather than basing your opinions off of just news media, which clearly did not state all of the facts, and also, the gentleman paid his dues over twenty years ago, Jon David was not even practicing law then...and lacks the experience needed to straighten up our criminal justice system. One way ticket out of the counties, your preferred candidate has never practiced law in these counties....

Here's an irony

a convicted felon loses his or her right to vote unless and until pardoned by the Governor or President.

If unpardoned felons are helping to get out the vote, that seems to send a message whether the Candidate likes it or not.

If someone was convicted of a felony 20 years or so ago, he or she has had sufficient time to "mend their ways" and apply for a pardon.

There is no such thing as a "pardon" from a felony conviction.

You can research this in the NCGS, but felony convictions can only be "expunged" by legal process. This is only applicable to non-violent, non-sexual related felony convictions and the expungement has to be performed by the age of 21. After that, it is on your record forever, no expiration dates, no get out of jail free cards, no pass go. You always will be what you were and anyone that performs a background check will know what that is.

Pardons are only applicable to active prison sentences and it relieves the time remaining only, not the conviction record status.


You lose your right to vote immediately upon a felony conviction. However, once your obligations are paid to the state, weather it be prison or probation, your rights are restored.

Once a felon, always a felon.

Once convicted as a felon, you lose your rights to vote, own any kind of a firearm and many other rights along with that. Those rights can ONLY be restored through expungement as described in my post above. Completion of jail time, probation or parole does NOT restore ANY rights of anyone convicted of a felony. That is simply a basic part of your sentence. A felony conviction is forever on your record along with the loss of those rights.

You people need to do your research before you post these innaccuracies!

right to vote

Guest 461 needs to do the research. Completion of jail time, prison sentence, probation or parole restores all those rights with the exception of the right to bear a firearm. Only that right can be restored by the ATF. Probation/Parole Officers and prison case managers are required to explain these rights to convicted felons upon their release from prison or final discharge from probation or parole. Not only are we required to explain these rights but are required to provide the individual with a voter registration form and assist them with completing the form if they request assistance. While they are always a convicted felon, their right to vote is restored.

You are wrong

I am a convicted felon, from a number of years ago, and YES, I'm still a felon, but my right WERE restored. No guns allowed, but I did vote in this past presidential election. Once my obligations were fufilled, I simply applied to have my rights restored. Simple enough.


You need to do your research. In NC your right to vote is restored after completing your sentence.A felon can not own a firearm, but they can vote.

Right to Vote


A felon doesn't need to be pardoned to vote in NC. All they need to do is complete their sentence,including probation and parole.

Well, I’ve seen it all.

Well, I’ve seen it all. Something smells with this story. I would hope that the people of Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus County read into this story. Why would a candidate for an office such as this, pay criminals to go out and get votes for them? “Good ole Southern Politics” you say Mr. Pope? Now that’s just plain ignorance and offensive to say the least. Here’s food for thought, why don’t you go into the very places where you are paying people to go and buy votes for you? Do you not want to meet the people that are being paid to vote for you? I didn't think so. This seems like an extremely unethical way to get votes. The Board of Elections allows this practice, I personally think it is wrong and needs to be addressed. Let’s just say you win, what are you doing to do when these convicted criminals appear in your court charged with another crime, how do you anticipate handling that? Back room deals? Seems like a serious conflict to me. Had I donated to your campaign, I would be appalled that you would utilize my money in such a way. One word “Pathetic”…

This Office must be held by someone with high standards and integrity.

Mr. David, If I lived in this district, you would certainly get my vote. Good luck.

Get out the vote

It's very concerning that a candidate for District Atty. would be using criminals to help his campaign! So, if those criminal workers get in trouble there a wink/nod payback? This practice should be outlawed. In other cities where I've lived, like Richmond, VA, really hardcore ex-cons were used in the last presidential race by Democrats to go, not only into the jail population, but into inner city neighborhoods to recruit. There were reports of people being threatened and harassed by these thugs. Some were intimidated to vote Democratic as the same thugs were at the polling stations, watching. This is no different that vote buying!


U aren't in Virginia or anywhere else...What r u thinkin...Noone went in there with a gun to thier head or a knife to thier back...Seems to me that is where your sheriffs department should of a stepped in...U think??


A felon can run for office and be elected to any position in the
state of North Carolina.They may be elected sheriff,however a felon can not be hired as a deputy.They may be elected to the board of education,however a felon can not be hired as a teacher.If a felon
can run for any position what is wrong with a felon working for someone's campaign.Felon are normal people that have a right to work
and provide for themselves.

Get Out The Vote Expenses Are Legal

Candidates covering three counties have to have lots of help, both paid and volunteers. NC law allows candidates to use campaign funds to get out the vote. If two guys were paid to build and use post hole diggers to put out large signs along with hundreds of yard signs in three large counties happen to have have criminal records from years ago - so what ?? They are putting out signs. Like they said on tv, it is legal !


They should volunteer if they believe in the candidate that much! WON'T EVER HAPPEN..GO TO BED WITH DOGS, GET UP WITH DOGS..

Go to bed with dogs, get up

Go to bed with dogs, get up with fleas.

Now, ain't that

Now, ain't that something....criminals working for politicians. Politicians work for criminals, so what's the big deal? They all run in the same circle, anyhow.


I agree! Thanks.....

Get out the vote

You got that right! Nuff said!

I bet a million dollars

That it was all for democrat candidates. Just sayin'......


I think you are all crazy if you think ANY politician for ANY affiliation does not do something that would be construed as illegal. Look to the Board of Elections and the way they run their office, they know about all these votes being bought and all the other problems that several candidates were being investigated during this past primary....what you dont know will kill you. What happened to the investigation? Buried by the Board of Elections. Mr. Pope was not included in this investigation, and we as residents of Bladen County reelected the same crooks as before. When are you people going to get tired of your despicable politicians that love to hate you and abuse you. They could care less about you. Before you talk about Mr. Pope, you definitely need to compare him to the "Other" candidate after you meet him. Arrogance is apparently Jon's forte, pppffftttttt. You think we would be better off with that? I've worked in the criminal system and I know both sides of this coin. Until you have knowledge of this you cannot speak about anyone's reputation and the job they have done. But do you want the David brothers running 5 counties????? Both sides of the coin works the same some research before you open your mouths.