RALEIGH — The State Board of Elections on Saturday narrowly voted to dismiss an election protest from a Bladen County candidate who won re-election, but then voted unanimously to refer the case of alleged voter fraud in the county to federal prosecutors.
McRae Dowless, who was re-elected Nov. 8 to the position of Bladen County Soil & Water District supervisor, filed his protest the week after the general election stating that workers with the Bladen Improvement Association PAC participated in a scheme to fill out hundreds of absentee ballots.
According to testimony brought Saturday, as many as 419 mail-in ballots were in question.
Attorneys advocating the protest claim that as many as 170 ballots my have originated from only seven people. But a majority of State Board of Elections members felt there was no substantial evidence to suggest the ballots weren’t valid.
However, the board then voted to send the case of voter fraud to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District.
“(Saturday) the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously to refer what appears to be a serious case of voter fraud through unlawful absentee ballot harvesting to federal prosecutors …” said Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the N.C. Republican Party. “We are confident that the new Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney will aggressively expose these abuses of our electoral system and follow the evidence wherever it goes.”
He added that voter fraud should be examined even if the ballots don’t have an effect on the outcome of individual races.
“This scheme, which uses only a few people to fill out hundreds of absentee ballots, and a Political Action Committee funded by the North Carolina Democrat Party, represents serious violations of both federal and state election law, and should be independently reviewed also by our State Bureau of Investigation,” he said. “Fully disposing of these issues helps our state move quickly to a final election outcome that we can all have confidence in.”
According to an attorney with the Gov. Pat McCrory campaign, said he didn’t think the State Board of Elections’ dismissal of the Dowless protest would be appealed in court unless the margin with challenger Roy Cooper narrows. McCrory has already stated he would request the State Bureau of Investigation look into the Bladen County voting results.
Members of the Bladen PAC have already gone on record stating their workers have complied with state law.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.