Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Possible Leak of Voter Data Adds to Concerns in Disputed NC Election

The Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party said Tuesday that a New Election in the State’s Ninth Congressional District may be necessary after Reports that Early Voter Data was Improperly Leaked by the Elections Board in Bladen County, where State Officials are already Investigating possible Electoral Fraud. Democrats allege that Data was Leaked exclusively to Republicans, giving them an Advantage before Election Day.

The Statement by the Chairman, Robin Hayes, appeared to bring State Republicans one step Closer to Acknowledging that the November Election, which their Candidate, Mark Harris, had apparently won by 905 votes, may need to be Nullified and a New Election called. Later Tuesday, Republican Legislators proposed a Measure that would ensure any New Election also included a New Primary, potentially giving Republicans a chance to Replace Mr. Harris, a Nominee many Party Officials now fear is Tainted.

“The voters will have the opportunity to start over by selecting a new candidate if they so choose,” said State Representative David R. Lewis, the Chairman of the House’s Elections and Ethics Law Committee, at a News Conference in Raleigh.

The Measure, which Legislators are poised to consider this week, would widen the Effects of any Decision by the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to Order another round of Voting. The Board, which has Not Certified the Results of the Ninth District’s General Election, is Planning an Evidentiary Hearing that will Explore whether Absentee Ballots were Illegally handled or even Altered by a Voter Turnout Operative who worked on behalf of Mr. Harris’s Campaign in rural Bladen County.

But the possibility that Data was Leaked by County Officials has also Emerged as an Issue. In recent weeks, Democrats released an Affidavit by Agnes Willis, an Assistant who worked at the Local Elections Board, who said that on Nov. 3rd, the last day of Early Voting, the Tape showing Election Results “was run after the polls closed, and was viewed by officials” who were Not Election Judges.

A Lawyer for the Democrats later wrote to the State Board, saying that Democrats had learned that Bladen County Officials had Illegally Leaked Absentee Vote Totals to Republicans, but withheld it from Democrats. “We are extremely concerned that early voting totals may have been leaked in Bladen County as reported by The Charlotte Observer,” Mr. Hayes said in his Statement, referring to a Story that Appeared in that Paper on Monday. “This action by election officials would be a fundamental violation of the sense of fair play, honesty, and integrity that the Republican Party stands for. We can never tolerate the state putting its thumb on the scale. The people involved in this must be held accountable and should it be true, this fact alone would likely require a new election.” He added: “Accessing early vote totals before the overall results are final can clearly give an unfair advantage to one candidate over the other.”

The Voter Turnout Operative, L. McCrae Dowless, Jr., has a Criminal History that includes Felony Convictions for Fraud and Perjury, and has been Named as a “person of interest” in the State Board’s Investigation. At issue is whether he or his Employees Illegally Handled or Manipulated Absentee Ballots.

As concerns about the Election began to emerge late last month, State Republicans initially threatened to Sue unless Mr. Harris’s Victory was Certified immediately. But last Thursday, Dallas Woodhouse, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Republican Party, said that Republicans “would not oppose a new election” if the State Board showed “a substantial likelihood that the race could have been altered.” Mr. Harris has Denied Wrongdoing, and a Spokesman did Not respond to a Message on Tuesday.

But any successful effort to require a New Primary could throw Mr. Harris’s Fortunes into Peril, perhaps Opening the way for a Political Resurrection by Representative Robert M. Pittenger, whom Mr. Harris narrowly Defeated in a Primary in May.

Mr. Lewis Depicted the Republican Proposal only as an Effort to provide Uniform Rules for New Congressional Elections. In the Event of a Representative’s Death or Resignation, he noted, a Primary would be Required. “This is kind of uncharted waters, so we felt like it would be in the best interest of public policy, the best interest of the people to make the rules consistent, so that’s what we’ve done,” Mr. Lewis said.


Jens Lutz, Vice-Chair of the Bladen County Board of Elections, says he will Not stay on in that Role, as State Investigators continue Probe of Allegations of Widespread Absentee Ballot Fraud. Lutz also Served in recent years as Chairman of the Bladen County Democratic Party and once tried, Unsuccessfully, to Expand Alcohol Sales in Bladenboro, a Dry Town where Stores cannot Sell Beer or Wine.

In a Letter this past week to Kim Strach, the Director of North Carolina's State Elections Board, Lutz said he was Leaving his Bladen County Post immediately. Multiple Media Outlets on Monday reported Lutz's Letter to Strach said Members of his Own Political Party are Attacking him and Critics are dragging Members of his Family "into the drama." "Sometimes in life circumstances reach the breaking point especially when (you're) trying to do the right thing," Lutz wrote. "I regret having to do this but things have gotten way out of hand."

Lutz Resigned as some Questioned his Past Business Ties to the Man now at the Center of State Investigators' Attention: McCrae Dowless. Dowless is a well-known Political Operative in Bladen County who worked with a Consultant Firm hired by Republican Mark Harris' Campaign during Harris' 2018 Run for Congress. But, before News Reporters flocked to Dowless' House and State Elections Investigators Descended on Bladen County, Lutz was sharing his Own Concerns. Two Posts on Lutz's Facebook page before the 2018 Midterm Elections show he was worried about Fraud.

Rumors swirled, according to Lutz's Post, of People going Door-to-Door in Bladen County to Pick Up Ballots, which Runs afoul of North Carolina Law, Only Family Members are Allowed to Deliver an Absentee Ballot on someone else's behalf. Some People, Lutz suggests, may have received Blank Ballots in the Mail even though they had Not Requested an Absentee Mail-in ballot.

Public Records show Lutz and Dowless were once in Business together. In 2014, they Incorporated Politico Management Services. The Company was a Political Consulting Firm. But, he refused to say who their Clients were, saying those Campaigns or Candidates could now be under Investigation.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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