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NC Democratic Party Submits Affidavits Of Bladen County Voters Who Claim Wrongdoing

The North Carolina Democratic Party said "people's faith in democracy is at stake" in a letter to the North Carolina Board of Elections, asking for a public investigation and submitting affidavits from voters and officials who said there were improprieties in Bladen County leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

In one affidavit, Datesha Montgomery said a woman came to her and asked for her absentee ballot. Montgomery said the woman told her she was "collecting people's ballots in the area." Montgomery says she filled in two names on the ballot, for sheriff and board of education.

Montgomery also said the woman told her "the others were not important" and that when she gave the woman the ballot the woman said "she would finish it herself."

"I signed the ballot and she left," Montgomery wrote. "It was not sealed at the time."

Another woman, Lucy Young, said she received an absentee ballot by mail but had not requested one.

Unless a voter is disabled, it's against the law for a third party to collect absentee ballots by mail from voters.

In another affidavit, Emma Shipman said a woman came to her and said she was collecting absentee ballots.

"I filled out the ballot while she waited outside and gave it to her when she came back," Shipman said. "She took the ballot and put it in an envelope and never sealed it or asked me to sign it. Then she left. Because of the way she presented herself, I thought she was legitimate."

The state board of elections refused to certify the results of the 9th District congressional race on Tuesday, where Republican Mark Harris is leading Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. Board member Joshua Malcolm said he would no longer "turn a blind eye" to what he called "unfortunate activities."

The chair of the Bladen Board of Elections told WFAE Wednesday that an investigator for the state board came to Elizabethtown in the week of the election and seized absentee ballot request forms and return envelopes.

Bladen has one of the highest rates of absentee by mail voting in the state. In the May primary between Harris and Robert Pittenger, Harris received 96 percent of the absentee by mail ballots.

In its letter to the state board of elections, attorney John Wallace - who is representing the N.C. Democratic Party - said "a review of publicly available voter file data confirms that serious irrelgularities and improprieties may have occured."

The state board of elections is scheduled to meet by conference call Friday at 10 a.m.

One affidavit said that Bladen resident McCrae Dowless was organized the absentee by mail ballot effort for the Harris campaign.

Dowless could not be reached for comment Thursday. He spoke to WFAE Tuesday and said he didn't know about the allegations of fraud.

Two years ago, Dowless alleged that a Democratic-leaning group was running an "absentee ballot mill" in Bladen County.