FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2018 file photo, Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. poses for a portrait outside of his home in Bladenboro, N.C. The North Carolina political operative at the center of a ballot fraud scandal is facing criminal charges for his activities in the 2016 elections and the Republican primary in 2018. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, that Dowless was arrested after grand jury indictments alleging illegal possession of absentee ballots and obstruction of justice. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, File)

The Latest: N Carolina operative out of jail in ballot case

February 28, 2019 - 3:42 pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the unresolved North Carolina congressional race (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

The main suspect in the ballot-fraud allegations at the bottom of a still-unsettled North Carolina congressional election is out of jail.

Leslie McCrae Dowless was released Thursday from the Wake County jail in Raleigh after posting bond. He was arrested Wednesday and charged with seven felonies accusing him of illegally handling ballots during last year's primary election and the 2016 elections.

North Carolina law makes it illegal for anyone other than a voter or their immediate family to handle a mail-in ballot.

The charges came less than a week after the state elections board decided Dowless' work on behalf of Republican Mark Harris, starting with the 2018 primary, tainted the GOP candidate's apparent November victory in the 9th Congressional District.

Dates for a new election haven't been set.

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1 a.m.

The rural North Carolina political operative who for nearly a decade delivered votes for candidates who paid him and stayed just out of reach of ballot-protection laws is facing criminal charges.

Leslie McCrae Dowless had stayed just out of reach of ballot-protection laws, but on Wednesday he was charged with illegal ballot handling and conspiracy in the 2018 Republican primary and in the 2016 elections. Four people who'd worked for him were also charged.

North Carolina law makes it illegal for anyone other than a voter or their immediate family to handle a mail-in ballot.

The charges came less than a week after the state elections board decided his work on behalf of Republican Mark Harris, starting with the 2018 primary, tainted the GOP candidate's apparent November victory in the 9th Congressional District.

The board ordered a new election but hasn't set a date.

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