Is GOP operative Leslie McCrae Dowless the poster child for voter fraud?
Republicans may wish that their two-decade-old campaign to convince Americans that there is blatant and rampant “voter fraud,” promoted by some of the most dishonest voices in America media and politics (including but not limited to John Fund, Rush Limbaugh, and pretty much every prime time loudmouth on FOX “News” [sic]), had never happened.
The reason is that a major voter fraud scandal — more properly, ballot fraud scandal — is unfolding in North Carolina’s 9th district, and the central figure is a shadowy GOP activist.
In 2010, a political operative named Leslie McCrae Dowless received a little over $7,100 to provide get-out-the-vote services for a candidate running in and around Bladen County, N.C. That candidate won his race by a healthy margin overall, though he won a slightly lower percentage of mailed-in absentee votes than his overall margin.
Everywhere except Bladen County, anyway. Harold “Butch” Pope won his race with 67 percent of the vote, earning 52 percent of the mail-in absentee vote in his district. In Bladen, he won 81 percent of the absentee vote. And with that, he became the region’s new district attorney.
Dowless is now at the center of questions about his role in a much more important contest — the race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District in this year’s midterms. Over the past several days, Dowless has been identified as the manager of an alleged effort to collect absentee ballots from voters in Bladen that may then have been altered by people other than the voters themselves.
Dowless is also a convicted felon.
Leslie McCrae Dowless was convicted of felony fraud in 1992 in Iredell County, according to court records. Dowless and his wife were accused of taking out an insurance policy on a dead man and collecting nearly $165,000 from his death, according to a 1991 Fayetteville Observer article. He served more than six months of a two-year prison sentence, according to court records.
Dowless, now 62, was convicted of felony perjury in 1990, according to court records.
In an affidavit given to the Democratic Party, Dwight Sheppard, a fire investigator in Bladen County, said he believes Dowless is in the thick of the controversy. Dowless has denied any wrongdoing to The Charlotte Observer. He could not be reached on Monday by phone or on Sunday at an address listed for him in voting records.
You can be sure that there might be several House panels that may want to tak a look at this matter. It fits a pattern: up until the present story broke, almost every example of “voter fraud” to spring up in recent years involves wrongdoing by a Republican.