Man at center of US House District 9 ballot fraud rejects plea deal, trial date set

On Monday, McCrae Dowless denied a plea deal that would have required him to spend a year in prison and five years on probation.
Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. (Photo: WSOC)

WAKE COUNTY, NC (WSOC) — The man at the center of the election fraud scandal in the 2018 U.S. House District 9 race rejected a plea deal and has his trial date set.

On Monday, McCrae Dowless denied a plea deal that would have required him to spend a year in prison and five years on probation. He would have been allowed to serve six months concurrently with his federal sentence.

WSOC uncovered the move that led to McCrae Dowless’s arrest and the unanimous vote from the state board of elections for a new election the following year in District 9′s congressional race.

Dowless is charged with paying workers to collect absentee ballots in Bladen County for Republican candidate Mark Harris — a felony under North Carolina law. Anyone other than a guardian or close family member cannot handle a mail-in ballot because it poses the risk that it could be altered or discarded. That means ballot-harvesting — efforts to collect completed ballots — are illegal.

Dowless was additionally indicted after officials found absentee ballot irregularities in Bladen County again during the 2016 general election. The elections weren’t Dowless’s first time being associated with election fraud. He had been on the radar of state elections investigators since 2010, when he was suspected, but never charged, with being among a group buying votes.

Read more here.

Categories: Bladen, Local, NC, News