• Second woman claims she was paid to pick up ballots in U.S. House District 9 race

    By: Joe Bruno

    Updated:

    BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. - A second woman Channel 9 spoke with on Tuesday said she was paid by an electioneer in Bladen County to pick up absentee ballots in the U.S. House District 9 race.

    Cheryl Kinlaw said she was paid $100 by McCrae Dowless to pick up the ballots.

    [SPECIAL SECTION: District 9 investigation coverage]

    She said she didn’t know it was illegal and needed extra money for Christmas presents. 

    “I feel bad now that I know that it wasn't legal, but I didn't know at the time,” Kinlaw said.

    Kinlaw is friends with Ginger Eason, who told Channel 9 Monday she was hired by Dowless to do the same thing.

    [RELATED: Channel 9 uncovers similarities between absentee ballots in U.S. House District 9 race]

    Channel 9 discovered them after a source provided photocopies of 159 absentee ballot envelopes.

    Kinlaw and Eason signed as witnesses for the people whose ballots they picked up.

    Like Eason, Kinlaw didn’t mail the ballots, she said she gave them to Dowless.

    “I don’t know what happened to them. He had stacks of them on his desk,” Kinlaw said.

    She said she dropped the ballots off to an office building on NC 410 Highway. No one was there when Channel 9’s political reporter Joe Bruno stopped by, but there was a Mark Harris bumper sticker on the front door.

    Kinlaw said she was told to promote Harris, the Republican candidate for the 9th District, and Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker to voters. She said she refused.

    [TIMELINE: How we got here in the District 9 investigation]

    “Well, he said kind of boost them whenever you're talking to people. I'd tell people vote for who you think should win. He was more like we need to get Mark Harris in here, and you need to get McVicker in here,” she said.

    Kinlaw said she knows of at least five other people who were doing the same thing as her. She said it has been going on for years.

    “Do you feel McCrae Dowless swayed the election?” Bruno asked.

    “Yeah,” she replied.

    Kinlaw said Dowless and others would help people request absentee ballots.

    State documents list those requests, and one name comes up repeatedly. Channel 9 counted 590 applications with Dowless’ name on them, on one document alone

    This is a race that is separated by just over 900 votes.

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