NC election board investigated GOP operative at center of fraud probe as far back as 2010: report

The man at the center of election fraud allegations in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District was once investigated over allegations that he paid voters to fill out ballots, a former election board investigator says.

Marshall Tutor, a former investigator for North Carolina's Board of Elections, told The Associated Press that the board investigated Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. in 2010. The probe was opened following accusations that Dowless was part of a group paying people to vote in the manner the group directed.

Tutor told the AP that the 2010 investigation didn't result in criminal charges against Dowless because there wasn't a strong enough case against him.

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“Dowless was throwing a lot of money around,” Tutor said. “There was no paper trail. Witnesses refused to give sworn statements or testify in court. No one was going to admit they were paid $5 to vote. But where there’s that much smoke, there was fire.”

Dowless is currently at the center of fraud allegations in the state's 9th Congressional District, where the results of November's election between Democrat Dan McCready and Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisDem candidate in contested North Carolina race refunds donation from Omar campaign Dem says he raised .6M for campaign in contested North Carolina district Warren: GOP knows 'if all the votes are counted, we'll win every time' MORE have yet to be certified due to concerns about potentially altered absentee ballots.

Harris leads McCready by about 900 votes, but the Board of Elections is investigating irregularities with absentee ballots.

Dowless has been accused of orchestrating the illegal collection of absentee ballots in an effort to swing votes in favor of Harris. 

In addition to the investigation into the midterm election, investigators are also looking into Dowless's role in Harris's victory in the GOP primary.