A formal election protest has been filed with the Bladen County Board of Elections over hundreds of potentially fraudulent ballots. The ballots in question are absentee ballots.
The protest was filed by Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor McCrae Dowless, a Democrat. Dowless grew suspicious after he noticed that the write-in candidate in his race for Soil and Water Conservation received a rather high number of votes.
In the opening sections of the protest filing, Dowless says there are ‘hundreds of fraudulent ballots’ and that Bladen county voters have become the victims of a “massive scheme to run an absentee ballot mill.”
Dowless goes on to name names.
The protest alleges that the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC paid several individuals to file fraudulent absentee ballots.
Dowless’ accusations were corroborated by a forensic handwriting expert according to a letter sent to the North Carolina State Board of Elections by James Heil, a member of the Bladen County Board of Elections.
The protest filed by Dowless notes that there are “several other batches” of absentee ballots which contain somewhere between five and fifteen handwriting that also seem to match.
The filing cites a handful of absentee ballot witnesses signing off on large numbers of absentee ballots. These witnesses were paid fees by Bladen County Improvement Association PAC for Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts.
In particular, one very active absentee ballot “witness,” Deborah Monroe, who was apparently personally validating at least 67 mail-in absentee ballots, appears to have written in “Franklin Graham” as a write-in candidate at least 71 times.
In further shocking evidence of this scheme, the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC filed reports with the North Carolina State Board of Elections admitting they that it paid Ms. Monroe multiple payments totaling $550 for “G.O.T.V.” See Attachment at 8, 23, 47.
Other payments which are disclosed on Bladen County Improvement Association PAC contribution reports include the following:
- Mary Johnson, witness for 74 ballots, $450
- Lola Wooten, witness for 58 ballots, $500
- Deborah Cogdell, witness for 45 ballots (including both witnesses on 1 ballot), $300
- Bridgette Keaton, witness for 16 ballots, $630
The single largest contributor to the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC appears to be the North Carolina Democratic Party. According to the PAC’s disclosure filing on October 26, the North Carolina Democratic Party gave the PAC $2,500.
Bladen Co. Improvement Association received a $6,000 check from the North Carolina Democratic Party on November 2, 2016.
Also named in the filing as making contributions to the PAC are some of the major Council of State candidate committees. Also named is the committee of the newly elected Democrat to the North Carolina Supreme Court – Michael Morgan.
- Michael Morgan Committee – $1,500
- Committee to Elect Dan Blue III – $1,000
- Committee to Elect Robert Wilson – $1,000
- Committee to Elect Judge Vince Rozier – $2,000
It is illegal to exchange money for votes or to pay someone to commit voter fraud both under federal law and North Carolina law. It is a Class I Felony under North Carolina State statutes.
Ballots are also under scrutiny in Durham and a protest was also filed in that county. Factoring in the protest filed in Bladen county, perhaps more scrutiny in North Carolina’s other counties might be prudent.
The Bladen filing, along with the Durham filing, bolsters criticisms over the North Carolina Voter ID law being overturned by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
This turn of events will have ramifications for the Governor’s race, where Democrat Roy Cooper has a paper-thin lead over the Republican incumbent Pat McCrory.
Read the full protest filing: