The political operative accused of absentee ballot fraud in a North Carolina congressional race that's now getting a do-over has been indicted. McCrae Dowless, who was arrested Wednesday, faces charges over the collection of absentee ballots in the 2016 and 2018 elections, the Charlotte Observer reports. Republican Mark Harris led the 9th District race last fall by 905 votes, but the state elections board never certified the election and last week ordered a new one. Dowless worked on the Harris campaign. He faces three felony charges of obstruction of justice, two charges of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and two charges of possession of absentee ballots. His lawyer's office had no comment on the indictment.
Dowless did not speak at the elections board hearing last week. But his employees testified that he paid them to collect absentee ballots, and one said the workers sometimes completed them, per WRAL. She said Dowless knew that she'd forged her mother's signature as a witness on ballots. It's illegal in North Carolina for anyone other than the voter or a close relative to handle a mail-in ballot, per PBS. Four people Dowless is accused of paying to collect ballots from voters also were charged. A date has not been set for the new election, but Harris says it won't include him. The criminal investigation isn't over, per the Observer. The elections board will send its findings to the State Bureau of Investigations next. (Florida faced suspicions of election fraud, too.)