The Republican Party has worked hard to convince Americans that voter fraud is rampant in the United States — allegedly committed by minorities, undocumented immigrants and liberals — but in North Carolina, conservatives appear to have an issue with irregular voting themselves.
“Committing voter fraud is easy in our state,” the state’s Republican lieutenant governor, Dan Forest, said in a video released in October. As WRAL News reported at the time, Forest’s presentation outlined ways to cast a fraudulent ballot in the state. “Just for fun, here’s one way an organized group could commit voter fraud in North Carolina,” he said.
Just for fun, here’s another way to commit voter fraud in North Carolina. You could — theoretically, of course — hire someone who would coordinate an effort to falsify absentee ballots. That’s the allegation roiling the state’s Ninth Congressional District, where Republican Mark Harris defeated his Democratic challenger, Dan McCready, by just 905 votes. For all the GOP’s hand-wringing over voter fraud in North Carolina, one of their own candidates has been caught up in a scandal over voting irregularities.
One woman wrote in a sworn affidavit that someone came to her door and collected her unfinished ballot:
The Washington Postreports that in one affidavit, a voter, Datesha Montgomery, said that a woman came to her home in October, explaining she was collecting ballots in the area. But Montgomery hadn’t completed her ballot. “I filled out two names on the ballot, Hakeem Brown for Sheriff and Vince Rozier for board of education,” Montgomery wrote. “She stated the others were not important. I gave her the ballot and she said she would finish it herself. I signed the ballot and she left. It was not sealed up at any time.” Another affidavit claimed that a Bladen County man named Leslie McCrae Dowless had acknowledged “doing absentee” for the Harris campaign and said that he would receive $40,000 if Harris won. “You know I don’t take checks. They have to pay me cash,” the affidavit quotes Dowless as saying.
Voting experts, meanwhile, have greeted Bladen County’s absentee results with skepticism. In the county’s Bladenboro 2 precinct, only four of the 159 ballots cast by mail were submitted by African-American voters. Absentee ballots were requested by another 156 voters, but they never submitted them, Gerry Cohen, an election-law expert who used to work for the state legislature, told the Post. “There are patterns that are at odds with behavior of North Carolina voters. It’s a whole series of suspicious events,” Cohen added.
North Carolina’s state board of elections will not certify the district results until the state’s investigation of suspicious ballots is complete.