“North Carolina Republican Owes $34,310 for Disputed Absentee Ballot and Turnout Work, Records Show”


The congressional campaign of Mark Harris disclosed late Thursday night that it owed more than $34,000 in connection with an absentee ballot and voter turnout operation that has prompted fears of election fraud and called the North Carolina Republican’s narrow victory into question.

In a filing with the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Harris’s campaign listed an obligation of $34,310 for “reimbursement payment for Bladen absentee, early voting poll workers; reimbursement door to door.” The disclosure form said the campaign owed the money to Red Dome Group, the Charlotte-area consulting firm that Mr. Harris hired for his campaign.

Red Dome, in turn, contracted with L. McCrae Dowless Jr., a Bladen County political operative who has been accused of collecting absentee ballots from voters in a potentially illegal effort to tip the election toward the Republican nominee.

The postelection F.E.C. filing did not detail precisely how Red Dome spent the money, including how much of it was paid to Mr. Dowless or anyone he recruited for his operation, which witnesses said involved canvassers collecting absentee ballots in apparent violation of state law. But the line item was at least one indication of the Harris campaign’s aggressive political focus on Bladen County, which has a population of about 33,000 people and represents a fraction of the sprawling Ninth District.


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