Wake County District Court, NC

Defendants in a 2018 election fraud scheme faced a second set of indictments on Tuesday by a Wake County, N.C. grand jury.

A political operative allegedly involved in a 2018 election fraud scheme in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional district is facing new charges.

Leslie MCcrae Dowless was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, perjury, solicitation to commit perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and possession of absentee ballots. His associates are also facing similar charges.

The new indictments are a result of “an extensive investigation” by the state board of elections, Wake County District Attorney's office, and the State Bureau of Investigation, said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

“North Carolina voters should be confident that state officials will continue to be vigilant and pursue any individuals or organizations that attempt to undermine our elections. Democracy is best served by holding those who attempt to thwart it accountable," Bell said in a statement.

Dowless, who was hired by Congressional candidate Mark Harris, was first arrested in February on an obstruction of justice charge, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and possession of absentee ballots. Prosecutors say Dowless and his team collected absentee ballot from voters in the 2018 election and in some cases falsely signed as witnesses.

Harris won the election, but the State Board of Elections voided the results. Harris failed to run in the special election in September.

State lawmakers have responded to the case by filing more than a dozen bills that reference absentee ballot fraud.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill in June that instructs counties to offer more flexibility in early one-stop voting hours in odd-numbered year elections.

 

Staff Writer

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.