Republican pastor Mark Harris notched a 905-vote election night win over Democratic Party candidate and Marine Corps veteran Dan McCready. Non-partisan election observers believe this narrow victory occurred in part, however, due to an absentee ballot fraud operation conducted by Harris campaign operative McCrae Dowless. Now, for the first time, Dowless has been confronted on video.
But that doesn’t mean he’s got too much to say.
After being named a “person of interest” by the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Friday, Dowless was approached by ABC News reporter Steve Osunsami on the side of a rural road in Bladen County.
Dowless got out of his car after Osunsami tracked him down.
“I have no comment,” Dowless said–before he was even asked a question.
“What do you say to people who say you rigged this election?” asked Osunsami. To which Dowless again responds, “no comment.” Osunsami presses Dowless and asks if that means he refutes the election-rigging allegations. To which Dowless replies:
At this time I have no comment and you can contact my attorney.
The allegations against Dowless and the Harris campaign have shocked the nation and upset the Republican Party’s general narrative–usually repeated without evidence–about “voter fraud.” The Tar Heel State’s Ninth District contest is marred by alleged election fraud. Voters are not alleged to have engaged in any wrongdoing.
Harris campaign employees have admitted to collecting absentee ballots–in violation of Tar Heel State election law.
As Law&Crime previously reported, unlawfully collected ballots were then allegedly: (1) filled in for Harris if they were collected without a vote in the congressional race; (2) switched to Harris if a voter had previously selected McCready; or (3) were simply discarded altogether–according to multiple affidavits by elderly and largely African-American voters in the counties of Robeson and Bladen.
Harris, for his part, pledged both ignorance of the alleged ballot fraud scheme–and signaled a willingness to help going forward.
“Although I was absolutely unaware of any wrongdoing, that will not prevent me from cooperating in this investigation,” he said.
The would-be GOP victor also said he would be open to a new election under certain circumstances.
“I am hopeful this process will result in the certification of my election to Congress before the next House session begin,” Harris’ statement reads. “However, if this investigation finds proof of illegal activity on either side, to such a level that it could have changed the outcome of the election, then I would wholeheartedly support a new election to ensure all voters have confidence in the results.”
State election board chair Joshua Malcolm described the apparent anti-democracy efforts as “unfortunate activities.” The nine-member body–comprised of four Republicans, four Democrats and one non-partisan member–previously voted 9-0 against certifying the 9th district’s results. Last Friday, the board voted 7-2 in favor of decertifying county-level election results affecting two separate races in the 9th district and determined that a hearing would be held on the matter by Dec. 21.
One potential remedy in the offing is indeed a new election.
[image via screengrab/ABC News]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher
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