BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The stack of evidence in the hands of the North Carolina State Board of Elections continues to grow three weeks before an evidentiary hearing on alleged election fraud in Bladen County and beyond.
As state investigators continue digging into absentee by mail ballots irregularities in Bladen, Robeson and Columbus County, the involved parties are turning over affidavits and other documents.
On Sunday, the state published affidavits submitted by the campaign committee for Dan McCready, the Democrat who unofficially trails Republican Mark Harris in the race for the 9th Congressional District by just 905 votes, votes that have been called into question.
In the documents released Sunday, Dowless again figures prominently, with multiple voters alleging Dowless or his associates collected those voters’ absentee ballots, that Dowless was bragging about throwing away bundles of ballots and that the county elections director was giving Dowless insider information.
Additionally, the McCready documents include a report by Harvard University government and political science professor Stephen Ansolabehere, who details his analysis of the absentee ballot data provided by the state.
In that report, Ansolabehere says the distribution of ballots voters received but didn’t request, or that were requested but never returned, almost certainly could not have happened by chance. The probability of these trends happening without someone interfering is less than 0.01 percent.
Additionally, while the rate of absentee by mail ballots requested but not returned for Bladen and Robeson counties was known to be higher than the state average, those counties showed nearly 2.5 times the rate of the rest of the 9th Congressional District.
Finally, Ansolabehere points out possible trends within the absentee ballot data that Dowless and his associates may have targeted minority communities, particularly in Robeson County.
The documents submitted by the McCready campaign also included affidavits from known players such as Jens Lutz, who resigned from the Bladen County Board of Elections this month as the investigation intensified and who has worked with Dowless.
Lutz alleges Dowless had a close relationship with former Bladen elections director Cynthia Shaw and that Shaw gave Dowless critical-insider information about vote totals and absentee ballot requests.
All the parties who submitted affidavits could be called upon to testify at the hearing scheduled for Jan. 11 in Raleigh. At those quasi-judicial proceedings, investigators are expected to hear from attorneys for parties on both sides of the political aisle as well as from some of the individuals involved.
In the meantime, the NCSBE has said it will continue to make portions of its investigation public.