Ninth District Election Fraud UPDATE: Dan McCready has Withdrawn his Concession

UPDATE: Since the writing of this article Democrat Dan McCready has withdrawn his concession. The video posted to McCready’s twitter page making this announcement can be found here.

The bipartisan North Carolina State Board of Elections voted 9-0 on November 27th not certify Mark Harris’s narrow victory of North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District. The decision comes just after accusations and evidence of voter fraud have risen out of Republican-stronghold Bladen County, due to reports of unusual and illegal activity with absentee ballots. The board has opened a probe into the these activities, and it’s within the realm of possibility that another election will need to be held in order to determine the true democratic winner of the hotly-contested congressional race.

The ninth district election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready was a nationally observed and statistically narrow race, considered to be the Democrats first chance in over fifty years to flip the district. Mark Harris declared his victory over his opponent at midnight the night of November 6th, while Dan McCready waited until the next evening to announce his concession from the race; Harris still had the tentative lead of a little over 2,000 votes. This difference has shrunk, however, to a 905 vote lead after absentee ballots slowly trickled in. The Weddington area and further all of Union County resides within the ninth districts borders, making it a relevant and influential topic for working adults and students alike. Harris won Bladen County, the aforementioned epicenter of these allegations, by nearly 2,000 votes, making it (along with Union) the only two counties McCready was defeated in.

Evidence centers around a man named Leslie McCrae Dowless, an independent contractor for the Red Dome Group. The Red Dome Group is a political consultant firm that the Harris campaign paid to help get Harris elected. Dowless, who was a consultant hired to aide the Harris campaign in both the primary and general elections, has been accused of running an operation where absentee ballots were collected unprompted and unfinished by voters in Bladen County, then filled in later by Dowless’s workers. Dowless personally turned in 592 absentee ballots collected from other voters. It’s illegal to collect absentee ballots in North Carolina, and only the voter themself or a designated family member may turn or mail in the completed ballot.

In addition to these accusations, an unusually high number of absentee ballots were requested in Bladen County. According to an anonymous official interviewed by the Washington Post, Bladen County had around 12 percent of its voters requesting absentee ballots, which according to him is “ridiculously high”.

These allegations have led to the incoming majority leader Steny H. Hoyer stating that democrats may refuse to seat Harris until the issues surrounding the election are resolved. Additionally a senior member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Gerald E. Connolly, is calling for an emergency meeting to examine the allegations. These allegations have also notably reached major news headlines in the week since the board first voted to not confirm Harris as the elections winner.

Though the status of Harris as the representative for the ninth district is in a state of limbo, it’s clear that the issues of the 2018 midterms are still far from resolving. The State Board of Elections will hold a hearing December 21’st to look further into all of these claims. While the board has not yet made its final decision on voter fraud, according to the post Harris has commented that “to date, there is absolutely no public evidence that there are enough ballots in question to affect the outcome of this race. Accordingly, the Board should act immediately to certify the race while continuing to conduct their investigation.”

As this is a major news event having to do with our community, the Weddington Witness will post updates to this story on our main news site as soon as possible while the event continues to unfold.

The Washington Post article detailing Dowless can be viewed here.