Democrats react to Bladen County election investigation

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ELIZABETHTOWN, NC (WWAY) — Absentee ballots in Bladen County are holding up certifying a congressional race and two county elections.

Tuesday night, we heard from two women who say they helped collect absentee ballots at the instruction of McCrae Dowless, and Wednesday we learned what others think about all of this. And it seems the public is not happy.

“I’m embarrassed that we have been hoodooed by a nefarious individual,” said Martin Denning

Denning was the democratic candidate for North Carolina House District 22 in the 2018 election.

He lost by a large enough margin that would not be affected by the potential ballot fraud, but says he was warned about McCrae Dowless’ practices.

“I don’t think this is the first time I’ve heard of him having some dealings that were questionable in past elections,” said Denning.

Ben Snyder, chair of the Bladen County Democratic Party, says during an appeal hearing in the 2016 election, Dowless detailed how he turns in applications for absentee ballots.

“He puts a mark up in the left hand corner of the request, and here’s the important part, so that a person in the county board of elections, if they run into a problem with it, will call him,” said Snyder.

Documents show that in 2018, Dowless himself turned in 592 of the 1,341 absentee ballots requested in the county. Of those 1,341 requested, only 684 were cast.

“I think it’s a shame that our state and county will have to waste a lot of money to get this whole thing straightened out,” said Denning.

Denning questions how things will be handled if the votes cannot be certified, and if people would vote again just on the congressional race, or all races in the county.

“One thing that bothers me is that it’s not just the congressional race with Mr. McCready and Mr. Harris, but it’s the local races such as the sheriff’s race here in Bladen County, the state house race here in Bladen County,” said Denning.

Russell Priest, incumbent democratic county commissioner for district 3, won by 234 votes, but those votes have not yet been certified.
When WWAY reached out to him, he said he was very upset and did not want to comment.

The State Board of Elections voted Friday to hold an evidentiary hearing before certifying votes.

That will happen on or before December 21st.



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