State elections board dismisses protest in Bladen County
Posted December 3, 2016
Updated December 4, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — The State Board of Elections voted Saturday to dismiss the election protest of Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. of Bladen County, which called into question the validity of hundreds of absentee ballots. Board Member Joshua Malcolm made the motion, saying there was not substantial evidence of violation of elections laws.
The complaint questioned handwritten signatures on absentee ballots submitted in Bladen County. Attorneys representing Dowless and Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign also pointed to suspicions about "assistance" provided as voters completed those ballots.
The state board also unanimously dismissed a protest on appeal from Kenneth Register of Bladen County, citing the same reason.
"So, when I looked at everything in totality, I really could not find a way for this board, at least in my vote, for this board to throw out ballots, especially the entire ballot from qualified, unquestioned voters," Malcolm said.
Attorney Roger Knight, who represented Dowless and the McCrory campaign, said he’s not surprised by the outcome.
"You can’t examine the original ballots," Knight said. "You can only see third-hand photocopies, and in a short, compressed amount of time, it’s hard to prove the kind of fraud that you need to establish in order to establish the kind of protest and challenge we were doing."
Malcolm also made a motion for the state board to make available to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina all information the board has regarding the 2016 general election in Bladen County. That motion passed unanimously.
"For him, or perhaps her, in the near future, to make any determination whether there was any criminal misconduct," Malcolm said.