According to WRAL, McCrae Dowless was arrested on Wednesday for felonies related to his illegal use of absentee ballots in the 2016 general election and the 2018 primary election in the 9th Congressional District in North Carolina.
The local news station said "Dowless was charged with three counts of felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of illegal possession of an absentee ballot."
According to indictments, four others face charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice including Caitlyn Croom, Matthew Mathis, Tonia Gordon, and Rebecca Thompson.
"There is still very much a live, ongoing investigation," Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said. He noted that more charges could be brought against Dowless and the other defendants.
The charges come a week after the State Board of Elections decided unanimously to hold a new election in the district after finding that Dowless and his employees took absentee ballots in the 2018 general election which is a felony in North Carolina.
Dowless was working for Republican Mark Harris during the election. Harris beat his democratic opponent, Dan McCready, by only 905 votes in the election.
While Dowless would not testify at the board’s hearing, some of his employees did. They admitted that Dowless paid them to collect absentee ballots. Lisa Britt admitted that she signed dozens of absentee ballots and also told officials that Dowless’s employees completed some unfinished ballots. Dowless was aware that Britt forged her mother’s signature as a witness on some ballots, Britt says. Britt also testified that Dowless gave her a note instructing her on what to say at the hearing.
During the hearing, Harris took the stand to call for a new election. The board will meet Monday to decide on a date for the new election.
"These indictments should serve as a stern warning to anyone trying to defraud elections in North Carolina,” Kim Strach, executive director of the state elections board, said in a statement. "Today is a new and better day for elections in our state."
The indictments unsealed Wednesday allege that Dowless took at least eight ballots in 2016 and at least three in 2018. The indictment also says that he gave false information to investigators and told Mathis and Croom to do so as well.
Freeman’s investigation is reviewing both how the actions took place and how they were financed.
"This is a step toward trying to restore confidence in the voting process, which is so critical to our democracy," she said.