Sometimes, political reporting is fun. The process of electing our leaders brings out all sorts of colorful characters: too-eager canvassers, mountebank consultants, conspiratorial locals, clueless federales, legendary ratfuckers, and, when we’re lucky, criminals so brazen that they bring a note of much-needed levity to the circus.
Dowless, we now know, appears to have been the ring leader in an election fraud scheme so obvious, it’s almost beautiful: Dowless and his deputies, perhaps with the direct knowledge of Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris himself, went around the 9th Congressional District collecting voters’ signatures on absentee ballots, then taking the ballots, unsealed, with them, voters say.
Wouldn’t you know, some ballots ended up filled out, sealed, and submitted to the state — a small handful of witnesses are listed on dozens of ballots, WSOC and Popular Information first reported. Other ballots, disproportionately belonging to minority voters, according to The News & Observer, went largely unreturned.
In Bladen County, Harris won 61 percent of mail-in absentee ballots, though just 19 percent of voters who received absentee ballots there are registered Republicans. Something is rotten in the state of North Carolina.
Things are happening: The state’s elections board has refused to certify a winner, and Harris’ campaign and Red Dome Group — which both employed McCrae Dowless and was paid by the Harris campaign — have been subpoenaed for documents. Democrat Dan McCready has withdrawn his concession and the state Republican Party has shown an unusual openness to tossing out the whole election and starting over, though only after calling for Harris to be certified the winner. Likely incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has left open the possibility of not seating Harris.
Across the country this week, Republicans have shown what could be called an admirably bold preference for ignoring democracy: In Wisconsin, Republican legislators sought to hamstring an incoming Democratic governor who proved trustworthy to voters, but not agreeable enough to the lame ducks in current power. In Michigan, in order to dodge a referendum, Republican legislators wrote their own bill covering a minimum wage hike and paid sick time — then watered everything down after Election Day had safely passed.
This is serious stuff, and so too is McCrae Dowless’ alleged criminal scheme to disenfranchise voters.
But you’ve got to hand it to the man: Were Hasbro to make an electoral version of “Clue,” we’d have a clear contender for its template. It was Dowless! In Bladen County! With the unsealed ballots!
For providing the TPM staff’s collective eyebrow a strenuous workout, McCrae Dowless is our Duke of the Week.