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McCrae Dowless indicted on new charges in ballot investigation

Update: This story initially listed charges against Tonya Britt Long in connection with this case, but Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Long’s name was submitted to the grand jury by mistake, and the charges against her have been dismissed. The grand jury will review allegations against Tonya D. Long in the future, Freeman said.

Leslie McRae Dowless has been indicted on additional charges in connection with an absentee ballot investigation, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman announced Tuesday.

Dowless, 63, of Bladenboro, was charged with two counts of felony obstruction, perjury, solicitation to commit perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and possession of absentee ballot, according to the indictment released Tuesday.

Seven others also were indicted Tuesday in connection to the investigation of voting irregularities in the 2018 U.S. House District 9 race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. The district includes Bladen County.

Dowless (pictured) was indicted in February on three counts of charges of obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of absentee ballot.

Others listed in the indictment revealed Tuesday are:

• Lisa M. Britt: Charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, possession of absentee ballot and voting as a felon.

• Ginger Shae Eason: Charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and possession of absentee ballot.

• Woody Darrel Hester: Charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and one count of possession of absentee ballot.

• James Singletary: Charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and one count of possession of absentee ballot.

• Jessica R. Dowless: Charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and swearing falsely.

• Kelly Hendrix: Charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and one count of possession of absentee ballot.

Freeman, the Wake County District attorney, told the News & Observer of Raleigh that additional indictments may follow.

“This is a large investigation,” Freeman told the newspaper. “It involves multiple election cycles, multiple individuals alleged to be involved in this election fraud.”

Harris led McCready by 905 votes based on unofficial returns following last November’s election. However, the State Board of Elections would not certify the result and an investigation followed. Dowless worked for Harris during the 2018 election. Harris denied knowledge of Dowless’ alleged action of collecting absentee ballots from people.

In February, the State Board called for a new election for the District 9 seat. McCready is running again and is opposed by Republican Dan Bishop. The special election is scheduled for September 10.

The absentee ballot fraud that occurred in the 9th Congressional District effectively disenfranchised voters in that district.

“North Carolina voters should be confident that state officials will continue to be vigilant and pursue any individuals or organizations that attempt to undermine our elections,” said Karen Brinson Bell, who is the executive director of the State Board of Elections. “Democracy is best served by holding those who attempt to thwart it accountable.”

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