(Reuters) – The North Carolina Board of Elections has released affidavits from voters who told investigators of fraud allegations that a Republican campaign worker collected their absentee ballots in a U.S. congressional race in which the Democrat lost.
It is illegal in North Carolina for anyone except the voter or a near relative to deliver an absentee ballot in person.
Voters in Bladen County said McCrae Dowless, who worked for Mark Harris, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, collected their ballots and they did not know what he did with them, according to the affidavits, which were released on Sunday.
Harris appeared to defeat Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the Nov. 6 election. A total of 282,717 votes were cast in the race, according to Ballotpedia, an online encyclopedia of U.S. politics and elections.
Cynthia Adams Singletary, a lawyer for Dowless, could not be reached for comment on Monday.
“He has not violated any state or federal campaign laws and current ongoing investigations will prove the same. All speculation is premature and wholly unwarranted,” Singletary said in a statement to local news media last week.
The Board of Elections voted last month to investigate claims of voter fraud and irregularities in Bladen County, declining to certify Harris as the winner in the race.
Christopher Eason of Bladenboro, North Carolina, said in an affidavit that Dowless came to his house and asked for his absentee ballot, which he handed over signed and unsealed.
“I signed the absentee ballot envelope but left the ballot completely blank. I did not make any selections in any of the contests on the ballot,” Eason wrote in the affidavit, provided to the Board of Elections by McCready’s lawyers.
Attorneys Jonathan Berkron and Marc Elias, who represent McCready, did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Stephen Ansolabehere, a political science professor at Harvard University, found that voters in Bladen County were 2.5 times less likely to turn in their absentee ballots themselves than elsewhere in North Carolina, which he called a “statistical outlier” in his affidavit.
“These deviations are extremely unlikely to have arisen by chance,” Ansolabehere said.
Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Jonathan Oatis