Meet the people challenging the election and their fellow voters’ eligibility

By: - November 22, 2016 5:00 am

The voters are felons. They’re dead. They voted in two states. They took advantage of same-day registration, which can’t be trusted. Election officials were tired and must have made an error. The tabulators may have malfunctioned. The memory cards were hinky.

The theories of why the 2016 election was allegedly botched, rigged and flubbed range from the believable – a felon still on parole unknowingly voted – to outlandish – someone might have broken in to a locked box in a locked room in a locked board of elections and entered ballots into a locked machine.

As NCPW reported yesterday, some of the challenges to voter eligibility and the electoral process appear to be an organized effort by conservatives, including the Gov. McCrory campaign. To learn more about the people challenging their fellow voters’ eligibility – a significant and possibly defamatory charge if the allegations include fraud — NCPW consulted voter registration records, news databases, campaign finance websites and other public records. Were the challengers discrete individuals concerned about election integrity or instead, members of a coordinated campaign with partisan motives?

In 52 counties, 38 people filed protests to election procedure and challenges to eligibility; of those, 27 – or 71 percent — hold official positions in the Republican Party on a state or local level.

Of the remaining 11 who aren’t part of the party’s inner circle, four have openly stated they are volunteers for the McCrory campaign or have publicly shown their support for his candidacy.

Two more outside of the party have run for office, one as a Republican and one as an unaffiliated candidate in a nonpartisan race.

That leaves just five citizens with no apparent connections to any party’s apparatus: Four people are registered Republicans. One individual tried is protesting the board’s ruling that his relative sent her absentee ballot past the deadline. That relative has regularly voted in primary and general elections since 1986.

Here is the list of challengers, their county of residence and their political backgrounds. The protests are also online at the State Board of Elections.

Steve Carter is a retired banker, chairman of the Alamance County Tea Party and  finance chairman of the county GOP. He is also a member of Alamance Conservative PAC and Freedom Works, a Washington, D.C., group that nurtured the tea party movement.

On his Facebook page, Carter posts and share links and photos including one that features a cropduster plane, with the words “Riot Control Fill These With Pepper Spray” and another that reads “When the government says you don’t need a gun, buy two.”

Another post quotes Vladimir Putin: “Russia does not need minorities. Minorities need Russia and we will not grant them special privilege to try to change our laws to fit their desirers, no matter how loud they yell ‘discrimination.’”

The vice-chairman of the Alexander County Republican Party, Jack Simms also served as a precinct chair in Taylorsville. He supports Gov. Pat McCrory for re-election.

 McCrory supporter and Bertie County resident, Garry Terry wrote a letter to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald titled “Why Trump Will Win”: “We are tired of divisive political rhetoric that cause hate and anger,” he wrote. “We have seen racial and social unrest used by political operatives as a tool to advance a radical agenda. We are tired of seeing cities burned to the ground in the name of progressiveness. We are tired of tax dollars going to fund Planned Parenthood’ s legalized murder and selling of body parts.”

[Tweet “We are tired of seeing cities burned to the ground in the name of progressiveness.”]

(Planned Parenthood does not sell body parts. Abortion has been legal in the U.S. since 1973; the medical procedure is not a crime and thus not murder.)

Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. won election as Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, a nonpartisan seat.( He voted Democratic until this year, when he cast ballots in the Republican primary.)

He alleges paid Democratic operatives operated an absentee ballot mill. The State Board of Elections has assumed jurisdiction over the ballot count in Bladen County and could launch a criminal investigation.

Although Bladen County’s allegations don’t involve felons who may have voted illegally, it’s worth noting that many protests and challenges filed throughout the state did. However, felons, once they’ve completed their sentence and finished any probation or parole, can vote.

And, State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach said at Sunday’s emergency meeting, their analysts compare not only Department of Correction records with voter registration records, but also driver’s license numbers. This prevents cases of mistaken identity in identifying possible felons who voted illegally – but not necessarily fraudulently.

Exhibit A:  A man with the same name as Leslie McCrea Dowless Jr, who also listed his address as Bladen County, was convicted in 1992 of fraud, a low-level felony. He was sentenced to two years in prison. Dowless completed the terms of his parole on that charge and others, thus this person is eligible to vote.

NCPW called and emailed Dowless to find out if he is the same person listed in the DOC database, but he has not responded to the inquiry.

Joe Agovino is the chairman of the Brunswick County GOP. He ran in 2012 for Brunswick County Commissioner but lost in the primary.

Charles Parris is the vice chair of the Burke County GOP. In a letter to fellow Republicans on the party’s website, he wrote: “Because we are undermining our own police and military forces and giving into the beliefs that you can always TALK to people who want to kill you. Even the ones who preach this, have body guards, WITH GUNS.” (Emphasis Parris.)

Rachel Kennedy is a registered Republican.

Dawn Bowland is a registered Republican.

Chairman of the Craven County GOP, Carl Mischka took a strong anti-immigration stand in his Facebook post of Nov. 14: Watching Obama’s never ending Presser he obviously does not know that many of the protesters tearing up THEIR cities and communities are those that he describes as those wonderful DACA kids “who have done nothing wrong”. I have never understood that he doesn’t understand that illegal immigrants are criminals. Spending an hour plus trying to rebuild his legacy…good luck with that!

A retired Army major, Jerry Reinoehl ran for Fayetteville City Council in 2013, but lost. A McCrory supporter, Reinoehl asked his Facebook friends to donate to the governor’s legal defense fund:

“The election for North Carolina’s Governor is not over and Pat McCrory’s legal defense fund needs our $$ to drain the swamp of voter fraud and corruption that occurred during this election. We must retain Governor Pat McCrory to keep our state moving forward. What is at stake if Roy Cooper becomes Governor: The Republican majorities on the state and county boards of election, the chair and leadership positions on state commissions and advisory boards and committees, etc.”

[Tweet ““The election for North Carolina’s Governor is not over and Pat McCrory’s legal defense fund needs our $$ to drain the swamp of voter fraud and corruption that occurred during this election.”]

And apparently, Reinoehl’s Trump signs had been vandalized, leading him to post this message on social media:

“This is the front and back of the new really “beautiful” sign along with new video surveillance and warning that have been strategically positioned on the property to provide over watch of the battlespace. The previous sign without cameras managed to survive a few days. The violation of destruction of private property – political signage – is only considered a misdemeanor offense. The real issue, is that the damage to the sign is a violation of one of our most cherished rights – our freedom of speech as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. Should those committing this “hate” crime destroy this sign, the replacement will just be bigger and more beautiful.”

Roger Younts was just 30 when he was appointed to the state House in District 80. He replaced Jerry Dockham, who was appointed to the North Carolina Utilities Commission in 2013.

It helped that Younts could vote for his own appointment as a member of the Davidson County Republican Executive Committee for that district. In a party kerfluffle, Younts, who was one of just six people eligible to decide the appointment, didn’t recuse himself. Instead he won the appointment by a vote of 3-2 over Sam Watford.

But Watford gave Younts his comeuppance in 2014, beating him in the primary.

John Posthill, a witness for NCGOP attorney Thomas Stark, testified in the Durham County protest hearing. However, the Durham Board of Elections dismissed Stark’s protest for lack of evidence. Posthill’s challenges and protests are separate. He observed the polls on behalf of the McCrory campaign.

In a rare protest that doesn’t seem politically motivated, Forsyth County’s Michael Jones asked that the absentee ballot of Audrey Jones be counted because it allegedly was sent by the deadline.

Also in Forsyth, vice-chair of the county GOP, Linda Petrou leads the literacy committee of the National Federation of Republican Women.

Danny Pearce, second vice-chair of the Franklin County GOP, also ran for commissioner. In his platform, he opposed establishing local civilian review boards that could investigate complaints about law enforcement. He lost by 436 votes in the November election.

Former Army sergeant Floyd Adsit is the chairman of the Granville County Republican Party.

Sara Sparks is chairperson of the Greene County GOP.

Tina Forsberg is a member of the Greater Greensboro Republican Women’s Club and Conservatives for Guilford County.

William Clark Porter is a committee chairman for the Guilford County Republican Party.

NCGOP donor and vice chairman of the local party, Romeo Myrick filed a protest alleging there were issues with absentee ballots. Last week, the Halifax County Board of Elections dismissed the protest.

Bettie Ellmore is the vice chair of Harnett County GOP.

Ron Hartman is the chairman of the Hoke County GOP.

Heather Corbin is a first-time voter in Iredell County and a registered Republican.

Kimberly Hammond founded the Network of Enlightened Women, a conservative group at Western Carolina University. She served as vice chair of the college’s GOP and was president of a free market and pro-capitalism group, Turning Point USA.

Denise Rentz is vice-chair of the Johnston County GOP.  As a member of its executive committee, in September she voted to exclude Republican school board candidate Summer Hamrick from a conservative voter guide. Hamrick had posed in a photograph with a Democratic school board candidate at the local Acorn Festival and posted the picture on her personal Facebook page.

County GOP Chairman Charles Staley gave an interesting interpretation of civil rights history to the Los Angeles Times in 2012:

“Lyndon Baines Johnson gets in there, there’s riots in the streets, so they decide, we need to keep these black people in their place,” Staley said. “So, well, one way we can do it is to form this Great Society and make sure everybody gets some money and if they get in trouble, we’ll stop giving them money. That was the foundation of what we call social services. Up unto that point, the black  population voted Republican.”

President of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Republican Women, Claire Mahoney was also vice-chair of the Mecklenburg County GOP. Brenda Brown leads that county’s Republican Women’s Club.

Marilyn Marks is a registered Republican who lives in Charlotte.

John Rowderdink is the county’s GOP chairman who became embroiled in a fight with NCGOP chairman Hasan Harnett earlier this year. He asked Harnett, the state party’s first black chairman, to resign, saying that, “I must tell you that you a making yourself look small and incompetent.” Hasan was later ousted.

Densay Sengsoulavong is second vice-chair of the GOP.

Raymond Dyer is chairman of the Northampton County GOP.

Evelyn Poole-Kober is vice-chair of the GOP.

Bruce Wrenn started a Facebook petition in 2015 to allow teachers to keep guns locked up in their classrooms.

Rockingham Community College trustee Thomas Schoolfield rallied earlier this year in support of House Bill 2.

Susan McBride supports Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, the group that seized and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Charles Hellwig, first vice chair of the Wake County GOP, wrote a missive to his fellow Republican activists, warning the voter fraud was imminent. “We are under assault by Alinsky-esque tactics of the Democrats and their extremist ideology.” He used the letter to recruit poll observers for early voting and Election Day.

Brent Heath, treasurer of that county’s Republican party, holds the same post for the 13th Congressional District GOP.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Lisa Sorg
Lisa Sorg

Assistant Editor and Environmental Reporter Lisa Sorg helps manage newsroom operations while covering the environment, climate change, agriculture and energy.