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Michael Graff and Nick Ochsner wrote the book on a tarnished North Carolina election

Voter fraud and rigged elections have become such buzzwords in these conspiratorial times that you might not realize there are very few documented cases where election fraud actually happened.

Nick Ochsner and Michael Graff
Photo by Logan Cyrus
Nick Ochsner and Michael Graff

Maybe the biggest case in modern American history happened in 2018, in the race for the 9th U.S. House District in North Carolina. The State Board of Elections threw out the original election after finding evidence of a scheme to illegally collect absentee ballots and tamper with some ballots to favor Republican candidates. The investigation centered on Bladen County, a small county at one end of the big congressional district, and McCrae Dowless, a longtime political operative from Bladen County. He and several others have been indicted on criminal charges related to the scheme.

Today on SouthBound, we talk to the co-authors of a new book on the Bladen County case: Michael Graff, editor of the news site Axios Charlotte, and Nick Ochsner, chief investigative reporter for WBTV in Charlotte. Their book is called “The Vote Collectors,” and it’s out Nov. 16.

I learned a ton of new details in the book and in our talk about Dowless and the election fraud case. But I also learned a lot about the history of Bladen County, eastern North Carolina and how battles over race and power had been going on there long before the rest of the country paid attention.

Show notes

Other music in this episode

  • Diogenes In Hell, "Honesty"
  • Those of Willow, "Integrity"
Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.