[From Commoner Call reader, Tom Crofton: “This has a video of a timeline that really shows how the cheating worked an example of a private citizen using public records to make a difference.” — Editor]
By Doc Dawg
The Daily Kos (1/8/9)
The citizens of North Carolina’s 9th U.S. Congressional District are without representation in Congress as I write, while state officials investigate allegations of election fraud in the November contest between Democrat Dan McCready and his Republican opponent, Mark Harris. On election night Harris appeared to eke out a slim victory (by a 905 vote margin), prompting a gracious concession by McCready.
But in what was expected to be a routine late-November State Board of Elections meeting to certify the election’s results, board member Joshua Malcolm stunned observers and threw Harris’s apparent victory into question:
“I’m very familiar with unfortunate activities that have been happening down in my part of the state,” vice chair Malcolm, a Robeson County Democrat, told the board. “And I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place to the best of my understanding which has been ongoing for a number of years that has repeatedly been referred to the United States attorney and the district attorneys for them to take action and clean it up. And in my opinion those things have not taken place.”
Emerging from a hastily convened private discussion, the board’s members voted unanimously, across party lines, to decline to certify Harris’s victory in NC09, and to refer the matter to state investigators.
During the weeks that followed, snippets of news slowly began to outline the “unfortunate activities” Malcolm alluded to. In sworn affidavits, numerous Bladen and Robeson County voters painted a disturbing picture of alleged election fraud by the Harris campaign, executed by Harris’s personally chosen “GOTV” contractor, Bladen County resident (and previously convicted fraudster) McCrae Dowless. Dowless is alleged to have run an illegal ‘ballot harvesting’ operation, in which his workers were said to have applied for absentee-by-mail ballots in the names of unsuspecting Bladen and Robeson county voters (mostly people of color). Then, Dowless’s workers allegedly appeared at those same voters’ doors on or about the dates on which their ballots should arrive at their homes, helpfully offering to hand-deliver their completed ballots to the county board of elections office.
According to one sworn affidavit, Dowless’ scam was simplicity itself:
Dowless: “Well, I have added a new trick”
Shaw: “What is it?”
Dowless: “I am throwing ballots into the trash.”
It happens that at the time of this alleged activity I was serving as digital director for the campaign of a North Carolina Democratic candidate. And from that position I had the opportunity to observe that state Democrats mostly don’t use data science at all strategically. So recently, while preparing a white paper to illustrate what outside-the-box data analytics can bring to the table for progressive North Carolina campaigns, my colleagues and I thought it might be interesting to use as one example a quick look into the alleged ballot harvesting operations in Bladen and Robeson counties, putting to good use the detailed election data that, by state law, is publicly available here in North Carolina.
The animated data visualization embedded below centers on heavily gerrymandered NC09, which spans portions of eight counties …