The lead election official in North Carolina warned the Justice Department almost two years ago that a man who illegally collected absentee ballots, the same man currently facing the same allegations, would do so again.
N.C. Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach wrote a letter in January 2017 detailing the allegations against Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., a convicted felon who became a Republican political operative, and other individuals of illegally harvesting ballots in Bladen County.
“Our findings to date suggest that individuals and potentially groups of individuals engaged in efforts to manipulate election results through the absentee ballot process,” Strach wrote, according to the Associated Press.
“The evidence we have obtained suggest that these efforts may have taken place in the past and if not addressed will likely continue for future elections.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., who entered the office in September 2017, declined to comment on why charges were never brought against Dowless or others.
According to documents reviewed by the AP, federal prosecutors did nothing, and in January of this year the elections board referred the case to local prosecutors, but no charges were filed before the 2018 election, which has been thrown into disarray following revelations about voting irregularities concerning absentee ballots.
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