More Indictments In 9th Congressional District Ballot Tampering Investigation

Jul 30, 2019

Leslie McCrae Dowless, center, and his attorney, Cynthia Singletary, heading into the State Board of Elections hearing into voting irregularities in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, in February.
Credit Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

The political operative whose alleged ballot tampering in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District resulted in a new election now faces more criminal charges.

New indictments from a Wake County grand jury allege Leslie McCrae Dowless obstructed justice during the 2018 general election season when he worked for GOP candidate Mark Harris. Harris's narrow victory was tossed out by the state elections board and a new contest is underway.

Dowless is accused of instructing his workers to illegally handle other people's mail-in absentee ballots. He also has been charged with making false statements to the elections board and for asking an associate to lie at a hearing on the alleged tampering.

That associate was Lisa Britt, whose mother was once married to Dowless. Britt is one of seven alleged co-conspirators also charged in the new round of indictments. All the alleged co-conspirators--Ms. Britt, Woody D. Hester, James R. Singletary,  Ginger S. Eason, Lisa M. Britt, Kelly Hendrix, and Tonya Britt Long--all have been charged with conspiring to obstruct justice and illegal possession of someone else's absentee ballot. But a statement issued late Tuesday by Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said the charges against Ms. Long had been sent to the grand jury in error and that they will be dismissed. However, the statement added, allegations involving Ms. Long's participation in ballot collecting will be part of the ongoing investigation.

An earlier statement from the D.A. said the defendants are expected to turn themselves in over the next few days.

The statement also said the investigation is ongoing and that the D.A.'s office continues to work with state and federal authorities.