CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Sworn statements by voters and political power players in Bladen County accuse McCrae Dowless of collecting and trashing absentee ballots in the 9th Congressional District race. The affidavits released Sunday night by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, and submitted by Dan McCready’s attorneys, provide new and far more descriptive details of Dowless’ absentee ballot campaign, including one allegation of “throwing ballots into the trash.”
WBTV already interviewed one woman named Cetire Retamar who signed an affidavit saying she received an absantee ballot even though she did not sign up for one. WBTV confirmed through voter records that she received an absentee ballot. When we showed her a copy of the application she said the signature was hers but she had no recollection of signing up for an absentee ballot because she always votes early or in-person.
The most descriptive and damaging allegations come from former Bladen County Board of Elections Vice-Chair Jens Lutz. Lutz claims Dowless had a close relationship with former Elections Director Cynthia Shaw, who worked through the 2018 election. Lutz says there were numerous cases of absentee ballot applications being submitted by people who did not request them, including one for voter who was dead.
Lutz said he asked Shaw whether she reported the irregularities to the North Carolina State Board of Elections but “she had not and that she had instead contacted Mr. Dowless and talked to him about it.”
Lutz said Dowless had a close relationship with Shaw.
The Bladen County Democratic Party Chair Ben Snyder wrote in an affidavit that he received information that Dowless was throwing away absentee ballots.
Snyder said in a conversation with Bladen County Board of Elections Chair Bobby Ludlum that Ludlum told him he heard that information from Shaw.
READ ALL THE AFFIDAVITS HERE
Beyond the political movers and shakers in Bladen County, average voters also wrote sworn statements about illegal ballot harvesting they say was perpetrated by McCrae Dowless or those working for him.
One voter wrote “...McCrae Dowless came to pick it up. He has been doing that for several years.”
Numerous others signed sworn statements claiming that a woman “offered to deliver my absentee ballot and envelope.”
A Harvard expert also provided statistical analysis noting that the amount of un-returned absentee ballots in Bladen County was highly unusual.
“The rates at which voters who requested absentee mail ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties did not return their absentee ballots are extreme statistical outliers. For example, the rate at which voters did not return their absentee mail ballots in Bladen county is 2.5 times the rate elsewhere in CD 9 and elsewhere in the state of North Carolina,” Dr. Stephen Ansolabehere wrote.
In total, 14 voters and six witnesses signed affidavits that were submitted by McCready’s attorneys. The information was provided to the NCSBE and could be used in the January 11 evidentiary hearing on the absentee ballot irregularities.
Attorneys for McCready wrote the state board that they would like the witness list to be submitted by December 28th and that any witnesses should not be granted immunity for testifying in front of the board but instead have the option of “pleading the 5th.”