Blockbuster Must-Read from BuzzFeed: “Inside The North Carolina Republican Vote Machine: Cash, Pills — And Ballots”


The allegations that Republicans tampered with absentee ballots in a close North Carolina election represent the most serious federal election tampering case in years, one that allegedly stole votes from elderly black voters in the state’s rural south.

Now two women intimately involved with McCrae Dowless’s absentee ballot machine have revealed to BuzzFeed News its grim and chaotic workings, in which Dowless tracked votes on yellow paper and paid his workers, including family members, from stacks of cash, which some used to keep themselves high on opioids while they worked.

The accounts of the women, Jessica Karen Dowless and Lisa Britt, add significant new details to those that have come out from investigators and other news reports, as the state election board considers whether it should order a new election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. The women, both related to McCrae Dowless, paint a picture of American political chicanery at its lowest levels — though with sweeping consequences both for voters allegedly denied the franchise, and for the outcome of a pivotal national election, which Republican Mark Harris won by 905 votes.

Jessica Dowless described the scene in the small office at the intersection of two highways in Bethel, North Carolina, where she worked on Harris’s behalf for the last two months as chaotic. One worker, she said, “was so fucking high the other day she passed out at the fucking computer.” One of the workers who collected absentee ballots from residents was a “pill head,” she said.

Jessica Dowless, whose husband is distantly related to McCrae Dowless, described herself as a “housewife [who] needed a part time job” said she was one of about six employees. She often worked six days a week tallying the number of Democrats and Republicans who had recently voted. However, she explained, there were times when she did not quite understand what she was doing or what the grand purpose was.

She did, though, say that campaign workers delivered sealed absentee ballots from the homes of people who requested them to McCrae Dowless’s office — though North Carolina law forbids third parties from handling those ballots.

She said she spent her time tracking the number of ballots sent in to the county board of elections — and then tally up the number that were collected by employees of McCrae Dowless, who The Washington Post reported would keep the Harris campaign updated on the latest figures.

Jessica Dowless said she would also note voters’ race and party affiliation….

“Mark Harris was writing him checks left and right,” Jessica Dowless said, referring to McCrae, although she said she never saw the checks. McCrae, she said, “paid me a certain amount in cash and then the Board of Elections paid me the rest.”

It is unclear if the county Board of Elections actually paid her, or for what. Bladen County Elections Director Cynthia Shaw stepped down last week, amid a state inquiry into the 2018 results, opting to leave one month before her scheduled retirement, according to WRAL.



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