Channel 9 uncovers similarities between absentee ballots in U.S. House District 9 race

BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. — Channel 9 was back in Bladen County, North Carolina Monday, tracking down people involved in the controversy surrounding mail-in-absentee ballots in the U.S. House District 9 election.

The state refused to officially declare Republican Mark Harris the winner over Democrat Dan McCready, looking into potential wrongdoing in the election.

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

What Channel 9 found appears to be a targeted effort to illegally pick up ballots, in which even the person picking them up had no idea whether those ballots were even delivered to the elections board.

Consistently, Channel 9 found the same people signing as witnesses for the people voting, which is very rare.

Of the 159 submitted and accepted absentee ballot envelopes, below is the breakdown of those who signed as witnesses:

  • Woody Hester witnessed 44
  • James Singletary witnessed 42
  • Lisa Britt witnessed 42
  • Ginger Eason witnessed 28
  • Jessica Dowless witnessed 15
  • Cheryl Kinlaw witnessed 13
  • Deborah Edwards witnessed 11
  • Sandra Dowless witnessed 10

Many times, people on that list witnessed ballots together.

Channel 9’s political reporter Joe Bruno went door-to-door in Bladen County trying to find out who these people are.

[RELATED: NC Board of Elections votes to hold hearing on US House District 9 election]

No one answered at Woody Hester’s home. James Singletary wasn’t home either and Lisa Britt doesn’t live at the address she said she did on the ballots.

Bruno then visited Ginger Eason. She told him why her name appeared so many times as a witness.

“I was helping McCrae pick up ballots,” Eason said.

Eason said Leslie McCrae Dowless, Jr. paid her $75 to $100 a week to go around and pick up finished absentee ballots.

Dowless is the Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor who appears to be at the center of the state investigation. He was named twice in sworn affidavits as a worker for the Mark Harris campaign.

Eason said she never discarded ballots or saw who people were voting for, but after picking them up, she didn’t mail them. She said she gave them to Dowless.

[PAST COVERAGE: U.S. House District 9: Democrat McCready concedes to Republican opponent Harris]

She said Dowless never told her what she was doing was illegal.

For days, Channel 9 has been trying to contact Dowless. On Monday, Bruno confronted him, but he did not answer his questions.

“Did you pay people to pick up ballots?” Bruno asked.

“At this time, I have no comment. Have a great day,” Dowless replied.

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