North Carolina elections official resigns amid voter fraud controversy: 'Things have gotten way out of hand'

A North Carolina elections official with ties to a “person of interest” in the ongoing voter fraud investigation has resigned.

Jens Lutz, vice chair of the Bladen County Board of Elections, said “things have gotten way out of hand” in his resignation letter.

“Sometimes in life circumstances reach the breaking point especially when your [sic] trying to do the right thing,” Lutz, the former chairman of the Bladen County Democratic Party, said. “It becomes even more difficult when your family is drug [sic] into the drama plus your own party begins to attack you for compromising and common sense decisions.”

Lutz told WECT-TV he decided to step down after he was made aware that “some in the Democratic Party are not happy” with him.

Bladen County’s absentee ballots are at the center of a fraud probe that prompted the state elections board to refuse to certify Republican Mark Harris as the winner over Democrat Dan McCready in the 9th district election. The board cited allegations of “irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities” involving mail-in ballots.

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A few years ago, Lutz started a political consulting firm with McCrae Dowless, who has been dubbed a “person of interest” by the state elections board in the probe. Dowless, a former Democrat, has a criminal record that includes prison time in 1995 for felony fraud and a conviction for felony perjury in 1992.

Dowless seems to have collected the most absentee ballot request forms in Bladen County this fall, according to documents released by the state elections board. He worked for a consulting firm hired by Harris’ campaign.

“I do everything by the book,” Lutz told WSOC-TV. “Once I see something is not 100 percent, I would rather not be a part of it. There were several people aware of what I was doing and at the time, McCrae was a Democrat, I was a Democrat.”

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The board could order a new election – which Harris said he would support if it’s proved fraud changed the outcome of the race – but for now, the vote count remains unofficial, with Harris leading McCready by about 900 votes.

Some Bladen County voters said strangers came to their homes to collect absentee ballots – even if they were not fully completed or sealed in an envelope to keep them from being altered, according to affidavits offered by the state Democratic Party.

North Carolina state law allows only a family member or legal guardian to drop off absentee ballots for a voter.

Lutz posted concerns about potential voter fraud on Facebook multiple times. On Nov. 5, he asked if anyone had received an absentee ballot without requesting one or if someone had picked up a ballot who was not a family member. And in October, he warned against strangers collecting absentee ballots and encouraged people to contact him if concerned.

The 9th district spans a few counties in the middle of North Carolina along the border with South Carolina.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.