Seven people charged in District 9 ballot fraud investigation face judge

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Seven people charged in the District 9 ballot fraud investigation were back in court Monday.

McCrae Dowless is facing charges of felony obstruction of justice, perjury, solicitation to commit perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and possession of absentee ballot.

Dowless initially retained Raleigh attorney Tom Manning to defend him on the new charges, but Monday, court officials announced Manning had stepped down as Dowless' attorney.

Dowless was granted a court appointed attorney.

The Wake County district attorney also charged Lisa Britt, Ginger S. Eason, Woody D. Hester, James Singletary, Jessica Dowless and Kelly Hendrix last week.

Those six defendants requested and received court appointed attorneys.

They turned themselves in after being accused of picking up absentee ballots during last year's general election. 

Monday, Eason said she is angry at Dowless, and she didn't know what she did was illegal. 

She said she registered voters, picked up absentee ballots and delivered them to the headquarters of then-Republican candidate Mark Harris. But, she said the ballots were never turned in. 

"I took the ballots, the ones I did turn in and I seen him throw an envelope away," Eason said. "I can't swear what was in it or how many."

According to testimony and other findings detailed at an election board hearing earlier this year, Dowless conducted an illegal "ballot harvesting" operation. He and his assistants are accused of gathering up absentee ballots from voters by offering to put them in the mail.

The charges are related to the District 9 election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.

[PAST COVERAGE: Man at center of District 9 illegal ballot harvesting operation released on bond]

Harris' campaign was at the center of it. He chose not to run again after the state ordered a new election.

Republican Dan Bishop and McCready are now campaigning for the seat. 

The election is set for September 10. 

The Wake County district attorney said the case is still open.