The Vote Collectors: The True Story of the Scamsters, Politicians, and Preachers Behind the Nation’s Greatest Electoral Fraud

Michael Graff and Nick Ochsner. Ferris and Ferris, $28 (296p) ISBN 978-1-4696-6556-6
Journalists Graff and Ochsner debut with a fine-grained and vivid account of the 2018 North Carolina congressional race that was overturned because of electoral fraud. At the heart of the story is McCrae Dowless, the chain-smoking Republican operative indicted for leading a ballot-harvesting scheme in Bladen County that initially helped Baptist preacher Mark Harris eke out a narrow victory over the Democratic candidate, Dan McCready. When the state board of elections refused to certify the results, blame fell squarely on Dowless, who had been investigated for fraud in the 2016 election, but Graff and Ochsner persuasively argue that he’s the “fall guy for a country that struggled to acknowledge its racist past and the role of big-money politics in exacerbating inequities.” They also delve into the economic, racial, and political history of eastern North Carolina, documenting the 1898 white supremacist uprising in nearby Wilmington, N.C.; the collapse of tobacco farming in the 1980s and ’90s and the rise of industrial hog farming; and the “white backlash” that followed the election of Bladen County’s first Black sheriff in 2010. Throughout, the authors weave in intriguing bits of local color and draw trenchant connections to fraud claims in the 2020 presidential election. This doggedly reported chronicle sheds light on America’s political dysfunctions. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/30/2021
Release date: 11/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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