Election fraud in Bladen County probed long before 2018 race

A North Carolina elections investigator spent weeks in 2010 probing whether the man at the center of a current scandal was among a group of local political operatives allegedly buying votes.

The investigation into Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. came nearly a decade before concerns about absentee ballot fraud in rural Bladen County clouded the results of a heated 2018 congressional race.

LINK: Interview with Mark Harris

Marshall Tutor says his office first fielded accusations in 2010 that Dowless was among a group giving voters cash to fill out ballots the way he directed. Tutor retired in March after 15 years as an investigator for the N.C. Board of Elections.

Tutor traveled to Bladen multiple times, but told The Associated Press he was unable to build a criminal case against Dowless at that time.