N Carolina operative charged in congressional ballot case

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The rural North Carolina political operative who for nearly a decade delivered votes for candidates who paid him and stayed just out of reach of ballot-protection laws is facing criminal charges.

Leslie McCrae Dowless had stayed just out of reach of ballot-protection laws, but on Wednesday he was charged with illegal ballot handling and conspiracy in the 2018 Republican primary and in the 2016 elections. Four people who’d worked for him were also charged.

North Carolina law makes it illegal for anyone other than a voter or their immediate family to handle a mail-in ballot.

The charges came less than a week after the state elections board decided his work on behalf of Republican Mark Harris, starting with the 2018 primary, tainted the GOP candidate’s apparent November victory in the 9th Congressional District.

The board ordered a new election but hasn’t set a date.

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