• Bladen County GOP admits paying man at center of election fraud investigation to get poll workers

    By: DaShawn Brown

    Updated:

    BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. - Channel 9 is learning about a new payment received by McCrae Dowless, the man at the center of the District 9 Congressional race investigation.

    The Bladen County GOP is saying it paid Dowless $1,300 to help get poll workers.

    The admission comes as the party reacts to hundreds of documents that were released by the state board of elections on Wednesday.

    [SPECIAL SECTION: District 9 investigation]

    The Bladen County GOP said it all could have been avoided.

    In a statement, Chairman Walter McDuffie said the state board of elections either couldn't or wouldn't stop the bad behavior from two years ago.

    The behavior is now being investigated as election fraud.

    [RELATED: Gov. Cooper sits down with Channel 9 about District 9 election fraud investigation]

    Documents just released from the state board on Wednesday lay out a number of those claims still in Bladen County from 2016.

    It includes everything from witness statements to text messages.

    [NC elections board documents detail election fraud allegations dating back to 2016]

    In one text message, Dowless is referred to as “boss man.”

    In another, an alleged worker says of the ballot, “have it sent to me and I'll ask you who you want to vote for and fill it out for you.”

    [RELATED: Who is McCrae Dowless, man who appears to be center of 9th District investigation?]

    The message continues, “only way I get paid is getting people to do this junk.”

    McDuffie said had he known about concerns from 2016, he and others would've acted differently in the 2018 election.

    For example, this year, McDuffie said he was short poll workers when someone suggested Dowless could help, so he paid him $1,300 on Election Day to provide a significant amount of workers, which he did.

    “What happened really is very questionable,” state Rep. Alma Adams said. “We have got to bring some credibility back in this process. What happened should not have happened and somebody needs to be held accountable for it.”

    As Channel 9’s news team continues to dig through all the documents from the state board of elections, we’re learning the board of elections said another race should not have been certified.

    The sheriff's race in Columbus County, just south of Bladen County, was decided by 34 votes.

    Wilmington station WECT reports that there are unusual absentee ballot patterns in Columbus County that are similar to the ones that sparked the investigation in Bladen County.

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