Local Southern Baptist Pastor Investigated for Election Fraud

MATTHEWS, NC – The Rev. Mark Harris, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is under investigation for election fraud. Harris stepped down from his pastoral position in June of 2017, after leading FBC for 12 years, to run for North Carolina’s 9th congressional district. Harris lost to the incumbent in the primar, Robert Pittenger, by only 133 votes in 2016.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has declined to certify the results of the election that Harris apparently won last month citing “claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee mail ballots.”

Harris and his campaign manager, Leslie McCrae Dowless, a convicted felon, have denied any wrongdoing. According to court records, Dowless was convicted on perjury and insurance fraud in 1990 and served more than six months of a two-year sentence in prison.

Harris defeated McCready by 905 votes in November. Harris defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger in May’s primary by 828 votes.

In the primary, Harris won 437 absentee votes in Bladen to just 17 for Pittenger. In the general election, Harris won 420 absentee votes to McCready’s 258 in the county. The number of mail-in absentee ballots was higher in Bladen County than in more populous neighboring counties Robeson and Cumberland.

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