BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. -- Bladen County is ground zero for last fall’s absentee ballot fraud case in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

  • Republicans and Democrats express frustration
  • Some voters passed this off as nothing new for Bladen County, where fraud claims have surfaced before
  • Early voting is already underway in the 9th District

With a special election just around the corner, Republican and Democratic voters alike in the county are expressing frustration about what played out there. Some say it makes them question just how well their voices are heard at the polls.




“It’s the most dishonest thing that I could see happening. But unfortunately I’ve seen it years and years and years,” said Charles Lennon, a Bladen County Republican.

Republican Mark Harris won the county with more than 57% of the vote in November. But before long, accusations began to surface that a political operative hired by Harris oversaw an illegal ballot harvesting operation.

That operative, McCrae Dowless, has since been indicted in connection to the fraud case.


Some voters passed this off as nothing new for Bladen County, where fraud claims have surfaced before.

“It’s not strictly Republican. It’s gone both ways,” said John Davis, a Bladenboro resident. “We’ve known about it for years, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Local party leaders are working to keep local voters engaged: going door to door, holding meetings, posting to social media.

“We’re moving forward, we’re not going to relitigate the past,” said Wayne Schaeffer, the chair of the Bladen County GOP.

“If we can reinstate the belief that our vote does count, and we can give that assurity to the citizens, then we can again have two parties working for the betterment of Bladen County,” said Larry Hayes, the chair of the Bladen County Democrats.

For now, voters Spectrum News spoke with say they are still planning to head to the polls come election day, though not all know the candidates’ names.

“In every state, every county, there’s going to be something crooked going on,” Davis said. “But if you do not vote, then you have no say so in what happens in the government.”

“I’ve never missed a vote and I don’t plan on doing it now,” said Jennifer Lee Ingram from Bladenboro.

Early voting is already underway in the 9th District. Election Day is Tuesday, September 10.

Democrat Dan McCready, who was on the ticket in November, is facing off against Republican Dan Bishop, who was selected as the nominee in May. Harris declined to run again.