2018 Texas Voter Fraud and Election Integrity Review

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As we head into 2019, lawmakers will be called on to address gaps in protecting our elections and remain steadfast as progressives work to degrade the integrity of our elections.

Below is a month by month review of 2018 voter fraud and election integrity issues reported in Texas.

January

Robstown: After the November 2017 election, Direct Action Texas was contacted about voting irregularities in Robstown, located just outside of Corpus Christi. After reviewing evidence and conducting interviews, Direction Action Texas filed 30 election violations with the Secretary of State and Office of the Attorney General.

At issue in this case, a candidate won in-person early and in person election day voting, but lost by mail-in ballots. Additionally, an entire slate of candidates won with roughly the same number of mail-in ballots.

Nueces County: Following repeated instances of voter fraud in her county, Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands issued a warning to members of the commissioner’s court, “Election fraud is real in Nueces County.”

At the same meeting, justice of the peace for Pct. 5, Place 2 Hermilo Pena Jr., said that while he has not been the victim of voter fraud, he “acknowledged being approached by those offering to sell votes in his favor.”

Tarrant County: Justice of the Peace Russ Casey, was investigated for forging dozens, if not over hundred, signatures on petitions for ballot access. Forging signatures to be placed on the ballot is fraud and a felony offense. Ironically, Casey’s signatures were investigated after he accused his opponents of forging signatures.

Hill County: The Office of the Attorney General investigated irregularities out of the Hill County 2016 Republican Primary. According to a report on its findings, “In short, we found that a series of negligent errors on the part of election officials caused the skewed ballot count.” It goes on to state “This case highlights that inadequate safeguards exist to prevent such errors in future elections.”

The investigation into Hill County irregularities was a result of Direct Action Texas filing complaints showing vote totals in the primary election vastly exceeded the number of voters who participated.

The Texas Senate Research Center and Texas Legislative Council found that during the 2016 primary vote totals exceeded participants in 249 of the state’s 254 counties.

February

Starr County: Four people were arrested for illegally voting in elections held throughout 2016.

Arrested by Starr County Special Crimes Unit were Rigoberto Vela, 47; Oscar Ivan Peña, 23; and Reynaldo Moreno, 48. who allegedly cast votes despite being on felony probation.

According to media accounts, the fourth individual, Rogelio Garcia, 42, also accused of voting while on felony probation, later turned himself into the unit.

March

Fort Worth: Crystal Mason was sentenced to five years in prison for voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election while she was on supervised release stemming from a 2011 fraud conviction.”

Gregg County: Following the 2018 primary election, major red flags were discovered in Gregg County relating to mail-in ballots. Specifically, irregular mail-in activity was seen in the Commissioner Precinct 4 race. Complaints were filed and an investigation by the Attorney General was reported in the fall of 2018.

Harris County: Video of vote harvesting in Harris County was captured and distributed by Direct Action Texas.

Robstown: The Texas Attorney General’s Office issued a press release announcing his office’s participation in the prosecution of three Robstown residents, indicted for voter fraud committed in the 2016 election cycle.

Harvesters indicted included Cynthia Kay Gonzalez, Rosita Torres Flores, and Robert Gonzalez for nine counts of voter fraud, collectively.

Webb County: The Texas Attorney General’s Office began investigating the March 6 primary election in Webb County, specifically mail-in ballot fraud, according to a letter sent to the county’s interim elections administrator.

According to media reports, the OAG requested that “All ballots for the aforementioned election should be kept separate by election day ballots, early voting in person ballots, and absentee/mail ballots, so that mail ballot fraud patterns may be located for investigation.”

Starr County: Three politiqueras were arrested (in February) on charges of voter fraud stemming from questionable applications for mail-in ballots. The ballots were identified as suspicious by the county’s elections department. The Starr County Special Crimes Unit turned over eight voter fraud cases to the district attorney’s office.

Dallas: The Dallas Morning News reported on the Dallas County DA investigating more than 1,200 mail-in ballot applications for potential voter fraud. The area of focus, West Dallas, Grand Prairie and parts of Oak Cliff, had signs of fraud in prior elections.

El Paso: Former El Paso State Representative Norma Chavez and two other candidates who lost their primary election to replace Beto O’Rourke in Congress filed a lawsuit in El Paso County alleging voter fraud.

The lawsuit alleged that fraud and other mischief were the reason former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar won without a runoff.

The candidates/plaintiffs testified that they found discrepancies between Democratic Party voter data and information from the county. Analysis showed eight voters who were 117 years old, 172 voters were tagged as dead, and still, other voters had conflicting information on the location their ballots were cast.

April

Kaufman County: Direct Action Texas filed 47 counts of election fraud in Kaufman County after examining all mail-in ballots for both the Democrat and Republican Primaries to establish a clear pattern of ballot harvesting.

Tarrant County: A case was filed against Russ Casey for forging signatures in order to get on the ballot for the 2018 Republican Primary election. A plea deal was reportedly in the works that would amount to probation and resigning his position as Judge.

Webb County: The secretary of state and attorney general raised the prospect of a criminal investigation into the primary election in Webb County, where two people reportedly found that mail-in ballots had been filled out in their names.

May

Edinburg: Multiple times during the month of May and over the course of 2018, voter fraud arrests were made in Edinburg.

Brenda Rodriguez, Belinda Rodriguez, Rosendo Rodriguez, Felisha Rodriguez, and Araceli Gutierrez were arrested in one round arrest following investigations were undertaken by the Office of the Attorney General.

On a separate occasion, Texas Rangers arrested Veronica Vela Saenz, 41, and Jose Antonio Vela, 27 in connection with a voter fraud investigation. Saenz was accused of voting in the 2017 Edinburg municipal election although she did not reside in the city.

Fort Worth: Tarrant Justice of the Peace Russ Casey resigned and pleaded guilty to tampering with a government record after Direct Action Texas discovered Casey had forged signatures in order to be placed on the ballot. Casey was sentenced to two years in jail that was probated over five years.

June

Beaumont: 57-year-old Mario Obdulio Orellana, a man identified by prosecutors as being in the United States illegally, was indicted on five counts, including voter fraud and false representation of U.S. citizenship.

Dallas: Miguel Hernandez, a 28-year-old Dallas-area man, has been sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to a single count of using an unlawful method of returning a marked ballot.

Hernandez was accused of collecting a blank absentee ballot from an elderly woman in April, filling it out and forging her signature before submitting it to the county. Senior citizens filed complaints about receiving mail-in ballots they had not requested.

Robstown: Rosita Flores, a Robstown woman, pled guilty to providing unlawful assistance to a voter related to the 2016 General Election cycle. Unlawful assistance to a voter is a Class A Misdemeanor, Flores was fined $1,000 and a one-year jail sentence was suspended for 18 months of probation.

Prosecutors accused Flores of obtaining an elderly victim’s mail-in ballot and voting without the voter’s direction during the 2016 general election.

Edinburg: Arrests connected to voter fraud in Edinburgh continued into June, with Francisco Tamez Jr., 33, being arrested. His arrest comes after four people were arrested for voting illegally and providing false information on a voter registration card.

July

Dallas: Following his June arrest, a grand jury the following month charged Miguel Hernandez with illegal voting, a second-degree felony. Hernandez was accused of being part of an illegal mail ballot harvesting scheme that targeted elderly West Dallas voters in this May’s local elections.

McAllen: Following a complaint by candidate Eric Sanchez, the Texas Attorney General’s office conducted an investigation into illegal voting during for the Agua Special Utility board election. Mr. Sanchez alleged that multiple people voted from the address of his opponent but did not reside at the residence.

Bloomington: Two tenants in the town of Bloomington claimed they were told their rent would increase if they didn’t vote for candidates challenging incumbents on the local water department.

Hidalgo: Three women were arrested on voter fraud charges following an investigation into the 2016 city of Hidalgo runoff election. One of the women, Marcela Gutierrez was charged with illegal voting, a second-degree felony, because she is not a U.S. citizen. In addition, Gutierrez was charged with 10 counts of unlawfully assisting a voter, a class A misdemeanor.

Kaufman: In Kaufman County voters had to vote in a do-over election after the March 6 Republican primary was found to have been altered by voter fraud, this following a lawsuit alleging multiple mail-in ballots were illegally filled out and submitted by a vote harvester.

During legal proceedings, evidence was presented showing Brenda Prince, a Democrat operate and vote harvester, illegally assisted voters, and without voter, permission requested and submitted mail-in ballots.

August

Texas: Checking voter rolls against the DPS citizenship status, analysts found 280,000 registered voters who were not citizens. Non-citizens are ineligible to vote but there are many who do register and vote.

Waxahachie: Democrat candidate for congress Faye Woolridge alleged that her opponent Jana Sanchez and others within her campaign forged signatures on petitions before the March Democratic Primary. A handwriting expert indicated there were 163 possibly fraudulent signatures. The case dismissed on a plea to the venue.

September

Edinburg: During a trial surrounding the mayoral election in the city of Mission, witnesses named relatives of Mayor Armando O’Caña as allegedly participating in a vote harvesting scheme. The trial included testimony from a witness with mental health issues testifying that she, her husband, her son, and her daughter-in-law were paid to vote.

October

Fort Worth: Four women Leticia Sanchez, her daughter Leticia Sanchez Tepichin, Maria Solis and Laura Parra were arrested after being indicted on more than two dozen felony counts of voter fraud. State officials allege that the women were paid to target older voters on Fort Worth’s north side to “harvest ballots for specific candidates in 2016.” The charges address votes cast in the 2016 Democratic primary but also are tied to the 2015 city council election.

San Antonio: Sixty-three-year-old Enrique Salazar Ortiz facing federal charges including unlawful voting and aggravated identity theft pled guilty. Ortiz, a Mexican national was alleged to have been voting in the San Antonio for decades under a stolen identity.

Gregg County: Investigators from the Texas Attorney General’s office were reported to be headed to East Texas to work with local authorities to investigate allegations of voter fraud in Gregg County Precinct 4.

Starr County: Modesta Vela, was arrested twice in 2018 stemming from the fraudulent voting activity. Vela was served with four arrest warrants on charges of tampering with a government record, specifically voter registration applications.

November

Edinburg: An additional 10 people were arrested. In total, the AG’s office and Texas Rangers have arrested 15 people in connection with alleged voter fraud in Edinburg.

Edinburg: Jose Ignacio Martinez, 22, was arrested on a second-degree illegal voting charge for allegedly voting in the city’s November 2017 election despite living outside city limits. Martinez’s girlfriend and her family members were also arrested and are alleged to have done the same thing.

Travis County: Following the release of a video by Project Veritas, the Texas Attorney General’s Office is investigating alleged illegal voting in Travis County. Video captured by Project Veritas appears to show Travis County poll workers saying that non-citizens could vote. Gov. Greg Abbott called for an investigation.

Fort Worth: Charles Nathan Jackson, a 50-year-old homeless man with a criminal history was arrested for voter fraud in Tarrant County after providing false information on a voting application.

December

Tarrant County: Originally convicted of voter fraud in 2017, Rosa Maria Ortega’s conviction has been upheld. Ortega who is not an American citizen was convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail for voting illegally. Ortega illegally voted for 10 years and persisted in voting after she was informed of her ineligible status.

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