Republican operative accused of ballot fraud, McRae Dowless, dies from cancer

McRae Dowless, a Republican operative who was accused of helping to defraud a North Carolina congressional election in the 2018 midterms, has died.

His daughter said he passed away peacefully Sunday from lung cancer, the AP reported. He was in his 60s.

GOP operative dies

A long-time Bladen County resident, Dowless was charged in 2019 over an alleged absentee ballot harvesting scheme to elect the Republican candidate in the race for North Carolina’s 9th congressional district.

North Carolina’s board of elections refused to certify the results and eventually called a new election, in what was reportedly the first and only time a fraud investigation led to a federal election being overturned.

Democrats at the time had refused to seat the presumed Republican winner, Mark Harris, over the “well-documented” fraud claims.

Dowless had pleaded not guilty in the ballot harvesting scheme, along with six others.

He was due to face trial this summer and had been ordered to report to prison in December for Social Security fraud but was granted an extension because of lung cancer.

“The rest of the story”

Dowless’s family said that he had made “arrangements” for the “rest of the story” to be told, but “now is now that time.”

“Now is a time for grieving our devastating loss. We respectfully ask for time to grieve, your prayers and privacy for our family during this very difficult time,” their statement said in part.

The Wake County District Attorney issued a statement offering condolences to the Dowless family and explaining what will come next in the case.

“There remain about six others charged related to this matter and we will be moving forward with those cases with the understanding that the State’s position was always that Mr. Dowless was the principal coordinator of the ballot process in question,” prosecutors said.

A friend, Jay DeLancy, said Dowless “wanted the chance to defend himself against the state’s indictments” and that he turned down a plea deal “in hopes of being given his day in court.” Tragically, that day never came.

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