North Carolina political operative at the center of a ballot fraud investigation over a disputed congressional election was hit with new charges on Tuesday.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said in a statement that the operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, has been indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, solicitation to commit perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and possession of absentee ballots related to the 2018 midterm election.

Dowless was already facing charges related to allegedly collecting absentee ballots during the 2018 primary and 2016 general elections. The state election board ordered a new election for the 9th Congressional District seat after conducting its own inquiry into the alleged harvesting scheme.

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In this Dec. 5, 2018, photo, Leslie McCrae Dowless poses outside his home in Bladenboro, N.C. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, File)

In this Dec. 5, 2018, photo, Leslie McCrae Dowless poses outside his home in Bladenboro, N.C. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, File)

Prosecutors alleged Dowless' activities benefited Republican nominee Mark Harris, who beat his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, in the November midterm elections by more than 900 votes. Those results were eventually tossed out and a new election was ordered.

Harris declined to run again, citing health reasons. A special election to fill the seat is scheduled for Sept. 10, The Charlotte Observer reported.

North Carolina Election Board orders new election in undecided House raceVideo

The new indictment accuses Dowless of directing people to complete the incomplete ballots by instructing "individuals to sign certifications indicating they had witnessed the voter vote and properly executed the absentee ballot when they had not, and mailed or instructed others to mail the absentee ballot in such a manner to conceal the fact that the voter had not personally mailed it himself."

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Dowless' defense attorney, Cynthia Singletary, could not be reached Tuesday evening. Several others also face new charges related to the alleged scheme.

In a statement, Elections Board Executive Director Karen Brinson-Bell said officials "will continue to be vigilant and pursue any individuals or organizations that attempt to undermine our elections."

More indictments could follow, Freeman said at a news conference on Tuesday, according to the paper.

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“This is a large investigation,” she said. “It involves multiple election cycles, multiple individuals alleged to be involved in this election fraud.”

McCready will face Republican Dan Bishop in the new election to represent the mostly rural district.

Fox News reported Andrew O'Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Link:
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/north-carolina-political-operative-faces-new-charges-in-ballot-fraud-investigation

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