In 2021 a reporter contacted me for an interview. The reporter had obtained a copy of an email I sent to my mailing list, announcing the launch of my wife’s book “Thirteen Ballots.” The reporter commented that my tone had changed in the two years since early 2019 when I told the NC State Board of Elections that if it would restore confidence in the elections process, I would agree to a new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. 

The fact is, my tone had changed. As a matter of fact, a lot has changed since that hearing in 2019. As a matter of fact, my wife went on to write a book about the situation called “Thirteen Ballots: The Manufactured Scandal that Overturned an Election.”

I revisit this situation because, sadly, this past Sunday, April 24, 2022, McCrae Dowless died of cancer. In what could be described as one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in decades, Dowless was never given the opportunity to be judged by a jury of his peers for crimes he maintained he did not commit. The Founders gave us the right to a fair and speedy trial for a reason. Instead of his day in court, Dowless was left to live out his days defined by the manufactured scandal created by Marc Elias, the North Carolina Democrat Party, and the unelected and unaccountable North Carolina State Board of Elections. Yes, my tone has changed. 

A few weeks after the State Elections Board ordered a new election in the 2018 9th District congressional race, a man who worked for my campaign was charged with improperly mailing 13 sealed ballots belonging to voters to the Elections Board. More than three years have passed since McCrae Dowless was charged. Most of his charges stemmed from over six years ago, long before he even worked for my campaign. 

In 2018, Democrats were writing a damaging narrative that has taken several years and a lawsuit by a major Charlotte television station to unravel. Some of that narrative was easy to prove false. More may be proven wrong in time. Yet, in 2018 that narrative created a scandal of epic proportions that ultimately led to a new election for the 9th District.

I read the indictment and saw the charges leveled against Dowless by the state. I heard him deny the charges. Was Dowless the victim of a targeted attack that cost him his credibility, the work that he loved, and the embarrassment that no innocent man deserves? If so, then the weight of this tragedy will be heavier than anyone ever imagined. 

If allegations were serious enough to declare the 2018 Congressional election for my district “tainted” to an extent that “cast doubt on its fairness,” thus nullifying 282,000 votes, didn’t those voters deserve a speedy prosecution? If it was so important, and such an open and shut case, that for the first time in the history of North Carolina, a congressman-elect was stopped from being sworn into the seat to which he was elected, wouldn’t it reason that justice would be swiftly served, evidence heard and the accused tried? Didn’t the accused deserve the chance to defend himself in an actual court of law, which follows standard legal procedure and protects the rights of the accused, as opposed to the lopsided spectacle created by the North Carolina State Board of Elections and dominated by Hillary Clinton Campaign counsel Marc Elias?

Today, several questions have not been answered, and may indicate a cover up of great proportions. So much of what happened occurred behind closed doors. WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, has invested a great deal in legal fees simply trying to get documents released that involve some key players in this entire saga. Public institutions that are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests are holding these records. They involve Joshua Malcolm, the State Elections Board member who began this whole turn of events on November 27, 2018, with his motion to withhold my certification as Congressman for NC-09. 

My wife wrote her book to tell our side of the story. We had a platform to expose the lies, deceit, and hypocrisy of what happened to us. I am saddened that McCrae Dowless wasn’t afforded his Constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial to uncover the truth. The district attorney may place the blame on COVID, legal delays, etc. The truth is, none on the left wanted a light cast on what actually happened during that 2018 process and the subsequent concealment of facts. In this case, Dowless’s constitutional rights were casualties in their personal and politically motivated actions.

Dr. Mark Harris is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Mooresville, NC, and a former Republican congressional candidate.