North Carolina GOP operative accused of once possessing over 800 absentee ballots

A North Carolina GOP operative is accused of being in possession of more than 800 absentee ballots before last month’s midterm elections. 

Kenneth Simmons of Robeson County, said in a signed affidavit that he and his wife saw Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. holding hundreds of absentee ballots outside a campaign event in the fall, according to the local news affiliate, WECT 6. 

The news station noted that Simmons signed the affidavit in front of one of its reporters. 

“During the campaign, my wife and I were working putting out signs for a local candidate,” Simmons said in the affidavit, according to a copy provided to the WRAL News by the North Carolina Democratic Party.

“While we were in Dublin attending a meeting of Republicans, we spoke with McRae [sic] Dowless. During the conversation, we noticed that Mr. Dowless had in his possession a large number of absentee ballots. I questioned his reason for having that many ballots. He stated that he had over 800 ballots in his possession. I asked him why he had not turned them in. He sated [sic] you don’t do that until the last day because the opposition would know how many votes they had to make up.

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“My concern was that these ballots were not going to be turned in.”

Dowless, a Bladen County electioneer, has come under increased scrutiny as part of North Carolina’s investigation into the results of the election in the state’s 9th District. 

In November, Democrat Dan McCready conceded to Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisTrump sparks debate over merits of voting by mail The Hill’s Campaign Report: Debate over mail-in voting heats up Bevin says he lost because liberals are ‘good at harvesting votes’ in urban areas MORE in their House race when he was down by approximately 700 votes. But the elections board elected not to certify the results, citing “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities related to absentee by-mail voting.” 

Dowless has been named in multiple sworn affidavits as someone who worked for Harris’s campaign. He was declared a “person of interest” in the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement’s investigation last week, according to WRAL News. 

Dowless did not respond to a phone message from WRAL News on Tuesday. The electioneer has been accused of running crews door to door in Bladen and Robeson counties in an effort to request absentee ballots from people. 

Two women told a local news station in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this month that Dowless paid them to collect ballots. Both of the women said they never handed the ballots in and instead turned them over to Dowless. 

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