McCrae Dowless indicted on more charges amid 9th District absentee ballot investigation

RALEIGH -- Leslie McCrae Dowless, the political operative at the center of a ballot fraud scandal in Bladen County, has been indicted on additional charges.

Dowless was arrested back in February on charges of felonious obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and possession of absentee ballots.

A Wake County grand jury on Tuesday returned an indictment with more charges, including perjury and additional felony obstruction of justice charges. The indictment also included several other defendants accused in the scandal.

According to testimony and other findings, Dowless conducted an illegal "ballot harvesting" operation. He and his assistants are accused of gathering up absentee ballots from voters by offering to put them in the mail.

He was working on behalf of Republican candidate Mark Harris, who had a slim lead in the vote count before the investigation.
The previous charges against Dowless were connected to his actions during the 2016 general election and 2018 primary.

The most recent indictment is related to the District 9 election between Harris and McCready.

Dowless is expected to appear in a Wake County courtroom on Monday.

The State Board of Elections, which ordered a new election in the 9th District, issued the following statement Tuesday:
Today's indictments are a product of an extensive investigation by the State Board of Elections, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman's office and the State Bureau of Investigation.
The State Board has a dedicated division that investigates reports of election law violations and refers them to prosecutors when warranted by the evidence, as it did in this case.
The absentee ballot fraud that occurred in the 9th Congressional District effectively disenfranchised voters in that district.
North Carolina voters should be confident that state officials will continue to be vigilant and pursue any individuals or organizations that attempt to undermine our elections. Democracy is best served by holding those who attempt to thwart it accountable.


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