The Vote Collectors
Two years before a partisan duel over charges of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, the issue exploded – in actuality – in the wake of a congressional race in North Carolina’s sprawling 9th District. A narrow victory by Republican Mark Harris was voided and a new election ordered amid findings that a Harris-employed political operative had carried out an elaborate ballot-harvesting scheme.
In a discussion of their book The Vote Collectors: The True Story of the Scamsters, Politicians, and Preachers Behind the Nation's Greatest Electoral Fraud, reporters and authors Michael Graff and Nick Ochsner explore a stunning scandal that became a sort of political Rorschach test. Republicans saw the episode as proof of voter fraud and fuel for believing it extended well beyond south-central North Carolina. Democrats noted, and still do, that evidence of such dishonesty is extremely rare and the perpetrators (and beneficiaries) in this case were Republicans.
The culprit, McCrae Dowless, was charged with mishandling ballots, obstructing justice, perjury, and solicitation to commit perjury. He’s scheduled to go to trial this August. Ultimately, Ochsner says, “what happened in 2016 was the system working.”
Graff is a reporter at Axios Charlotte. Ochsner is the chief investigative reporter at CBS-affiliated television station WBTV in Charlotte.