The Vote Collectors
The True Story of the Scamsters, Politicians, and Preachers behind the Nation's Greatest Electoral Fraud
by Michael Graff and Nick Ochsner
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Pub Date 16 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 24 Nov 2021
University of North Carolina Press, Ferris and Ferris
In November 2018, Baptist preacher Mark Harris beat the odds, narrowly fending off a blue wave in the sprawling Ninth District of North Carolina. But word soon got around that something fishy was going on in rural Bladen County. At the center of the mess was a local political operative named McCrae Dowless. Dowless had learned the ins and outs of the absentee ballot system from Democrats before switching over to the Republican Party. Bladen County’s vote-collecting cottage industry made national headlines, led to multiple election fraud indictments, toppled North Carolina GOP leadership, and left hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians without congressional representation for nearly a year.
In The Vote Collectors, Michael Graff and Nick Ochsner tell the story of the political shenanigans in Bladen County, exposing the shocking vulnerability of local elections and explaining why our present systems are powerless to monitor and prevent fraud. In their hands, this tale of rural corruption becomes a fascinating narrative of the long clash of racism and electioneering—and a larger story about the challenges to democracy in the rural South.
At a time rife with accusations of election fraud, The Vote Collectors shows the reality of election stealing in one southern county, where democracy was undermined the old-fashioned way: one absentee ballot at a time.
Michael Graff is a reporter at Axios Charlotte. Nick Ochsner is chief investigative reporter at WBTV in Charlotte, NC.
“The 2018 North Carolina Ninth District U.S. House race was one of the most dramatic election-fraud cases in modern American history and, even in the Trump era, one of the weirder political stories of the decade. Yet while the case was intensively covered by the national, international, and local media, no account has managed to get such access nor to lay out the context as comprehensively as this book. It is rollicking, deeply reported, and a delight to read.”—David Graham, The Atlantic
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