The voter fraud scandal unfolding down in Bladen County lays bare the GOP’s hypocrisy. With almost no evidence except the election of a black man as President of the United States, the GOP has claimed broad corruption was tainting our elections. To hear them tell it, large numbers of non-citizens, mainly Hispanics and Muslims, have been voting in US elections and people have been voting multiple times in multiple places. Their answer was to push voter ID and other voter suppression tactics to prevent the exceedingly rare in-person voter fraud while ignoring completely the more prevalent mail-in fraud.
Now, when a real voter fraud scheme is exposed, the GOP base denies it’s happening while Republicans leaders demand the election be certified despite indications that the winner’s campaign paid for the shenanigans. They don’t care about voter fraud. They care about winning. The base is concerned about people governing who don’t look like them while the GOP establishment just wants power.
Representative David Lewis seems to have taken the lead as the GOP attack dog on the scandal. Lewis has always been hypocrite-in-chief in the legislature. As the Bladen County fraud was being uncovered by the Board of Elections, Lewis blasted the board for not certifying the election and suggested Democrats were trying to steal the seat. This is the same GOP leader who denies gerrymandering adversely affects elections while proudly saying he drew Congressional Districts to give Republicans a 10-3 advantage because he couldn’t draw maps that give them an 11-2 advantage. In pushing for the voter ID, he had the audacity to talk about protecting “the integrity of our election system.” Talk about a fraud.
It turns out that the guy who perpetrated what is almost certainly voter fraud was being paid, at least indirectly, by Mark Harris’ campaign. Harris’ consulting firm, Red Dome Group, seems poised to take the fall for the candidate. Harris paid Red Dome more than $400,000 for field services and they, in turn, hired the fraudster. The consultants almost certainly knew what they were doing when they contracted with him.
In the 2016 Republican primary that Mark Harris lost narrowly to incumbent Robert Pittenger, a third candidate, Todd Johnson, won the mail-in absentee vote in Bladen County with 221 of 226 votes cast. Johnson’s “consultant” in Bladen County was a convicted felon named McCrae Dowless. This year, Harris’ team hired Dowless and got an even more lopsided result in the primary in May, defeating Pittenger with 437 to 17 in mail-in absentee ballots. It’s very hard to believe Harris didn’t know what was happening even if he’s maintaining plausible deniability and the Red Dome guys are willing to go to jail for him.
In the general election, Dowless delivered Harris 61% of the mail-in vote in Bladen County despite Democrat Dan McCready winning the mail-in votes in every other county in the district. In addition, large numbers of requested mail-in ballots were never returned from Bladen and Robeson County. A disproportionate number of these ballots were from African-American and Native American voters, both Democratic constituencies. Contrary to Republican claims, there are enough suspicious missing and reported ballots to flip the election. More importantly, though, Harris almost certainly was aware that votes in the eastern part of the district were suspect in both the 2016 and 2018 primaries and they favored him this year.
Republicans who have spent a decade working their base in a frenzy about voter fraud should be demanding a full accounting of what happened in Bladen and possibly Robeson Counties. Otherwise, they should shut up about voter fraud and election integrity altogether.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >