Bladen elections vice-chair explains sudden resignation

Updated: Dec. 8, 2018 at 10:25 AM EST
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BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Amidst the Bladen County elections fiasco which has delayed the certification of a US Congressional race, another top elections official has just resigned.

Bladen County Board of Elections Vice-Chairman Jens Lutz spoke to WECT early Saturday morning about why he stepped down on Friday. Lutz, a Democrat, said he was used to taking flak from Republicans, but began taking flak from his own party this week for the way he was handling things.

"Overall, I'm a Democrat, but I've never been one to stay where I'm not wanted,” Lutz explained. “It came to my attention yesterday that some in the Democratic party are not happy with me. I'm getting hit on both sides, including my own party. I just thought it was time to step down."

Lutz said the Democrats nominated him to take on his position at the Board of Elections, and if he's lost their confidence, he doesn't want to do this job anymore. He said it's become too stressful.

WECT learned this week that Lutz had created a political consulting group with McCrae Dowless, a man hired to work as a consultant on Republican Mark Harris’s congressional race. Dowless’s questionable work allegedly collecting unsealed absentee ballots from voters has been at the center of an elections fraud investigation. Voting irregularities in Bladen County have cast doubt on the legitimacy of Harris’s narrow win on election night.

Dowless is currently a Republican, but has voted in Democratic primaries in previous election cycles. He has worked for candidates in both political parties. Lutz said he’d been alarmed for years by what he’d seen of Dowless’s activities as a get out the vote worker, and formed a partnership with him in an effort to get inside information.

"No one person, from any political party, should be able to swing an election…. The LLC was set up to figure out how he was operating," Lutz explained. The political consulting group Dowless and Lutz formed together has since been dissolved.

Lutz added that the concerns he had “from the outside looking in were every bit as alarming from the inside looking out.”

Lutz said his own issues with the Democratic party have become a distraction, and he didn’t want them to get in the way of an important, ongoing investigation into what went wrong in the 2018 election.

"I’ve been committed since 2010 to seeing the Board of Elections cleaned up,” Lutz said. “I’m pleased that it’s looking more now than ever like something will be done to fix this.”

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