Report: High Number Of Absentee Ballots Missing In Columbus County

Dec 13, 2018

Amid an investigation into election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, new evidence reported by WECT shows that possible fraud involving absentee mail-in ballots may have happened in Columbus County as well.

Credit MICHAEL TOMSIC/FILE / WFAE

The television station reports that about a third of the absentee ballots that were requested in Columbus County, which is part of the 7th Congressional District, were never returned. According to WECT, there were 557 absentee ballots requested in the county during the November election. Of those requested, 181 weren’t returned. Most of the missing ballots were mailed to registered Democrats, the station reports.

WECT says the absentee ballots were significant in the midterm race for county sheriff, as Democratic former Sheriff Lews Hatcher lost his seat by a slim margin of only 37 votes.

WECT also says McCrae Dowless — a political consultant who’s been identified as a person of interest in the state board’s investigation — contracted with Hatcher’s opponent Jody Greene. Dowless also worked for the Red Dome Group, a consulting firm hired by the 9th District Republican candidate Mark Harris' campaign to get out the vote in Bladen County — which is at the center of the board’s election fraud investigation.

There were 19,400 absentee-by-mail ballots that were requested but not returned for the Nov. 6 election. Bladen and Robeson Counties had the highest number of unreturned absentee ballots, totaling 3,404 ballots from the two counties located in District 9.

The state elections board has refused to certify the 9th District Congressional race between Harris, the Republican, and Democrat Dan McCready until after the investigation into possible election fraud is complete. Unofficial results show Harris won the race by 905 votes.