Election Fraud: Not Just a South Texas Problem
Now that the “Fort Worth Way” has been exposed and the Attorney General’s office is on the ground conducting interrogations and questioning witnesses, an honest and open discussion about election fraud is needed.
As a precursor, it’s vital to make a distinction between election fraud and voter fraud. Voter fraud is a deception committed by individual voters including voting more than once, impersonating another voter, or voting when you are ineligible. Election fraud encompasses all other actions and includes things such as tampering with ballots or carrier envelopes, knowingly certifying false results, or mass incompetence in completing results in error.
People on all sides of the political spectrum agree that it is indeed happening in Texas.
According to a Texas Tribune article, Gilberto Hinojosa, Texas’ Democrat Party chairman, said Republicans are too focused on voter ID and “turn a blind eye” toward election fraud by mail-in ballots which is more prevalent in the state.
“When you suppress the vote by this made-up boogeyman that (Republicans) created – voter fraud by voter impersonation – they put themselves in a situation to succeed in elections,” Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa gets some of it right, a majority of the fraud is happening in mail-in ballots. On the other side of the aisle, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has been wrongly criticized for talking about “voter fraud” because the media and the governor’s opponents takes a narrow definition of the term and solely focus on the convictions.
“The fact is that voter fraud is rampant. In Texas, unlike some other states and unlike some other leaders, we are committed to cracking down on voter fraud,” Abbott said.
Abbott was referencing South Texas and the illegal vote harvesting ring that was uncovered there. Unfortunately, for those of us in the DFW metroplex, Abbott was right.
Rio Grande Valley
Cameron County and other neighboring communities have recently come under the scope of both State and Federal investigations involving the AG and the FBI in a joint task force.
The task force indicted two men for having multiple ballots in their possession, without the permission of the voters. Six women were also arrested for charges including unlicensed assistance to voters, violations of the method of returned marked ballots, carrier envelope action by person other than the voter and the method of returning a marked ballot.
From an NPR article, “In the town of Donna, five politiqueras pleaded guilty to election fraud. Voters were bribed with cigarettes, beer or dime bags of cocaine. In neighboring Cameron County, nine politiqueras were charged with manipulating mail-in ballots.”
These are similar ballot harvesting rings in Fort Worth. While the majority of voter harvesting involves the Hispanic community in South Texas, here in North Texas, the Black community and Hispanic community are also affected, and have been for decades.
Voter ID is still important
Too often this debate get side tracked into a argument about Voter ID. Often overlooked in this debate is the fact that it’s difficult to catch someone engaging in voter impersonation or voting while ineligible. The only time a clerk or judge might catch someone is if the watcher knew either the actual person the perpetrator was trying to impersonate or the perpetrator firsthand.
Last year, Maria Ortega (who is not a U.S. citizen) was arrested on illegal voting charges in Grand Prairie.
From News21, “According to her lawyer Domingo Garcia, Ortega discovered she wasn’t eligible to vote after she updated her voter registration to Tarrant County, despite having voted three times in Dallas County.”
This is an example of how easy it is to vote illegally and get away with it. She was caught only after attempting to re-register in Tarrant County and had already voted three times in Dallas County.
In April 2013 the New York City board of elections investigator general’s report found that, “DOI investigators posed as 63 ineligible individuals still on the voter rolls and were permitted to obtain, mark, and submit ballots in the scanners or the lever booths in 61 instances ( 97% of the time). In five instances, DOI investigators in their twenties and thirties posed as individuals whose ages, as recorded in the registration books, ranged from 82 to 94, and despite the obvious disparity, the investigators were given ballots or access to lever booths without question by the BOE poll workers. The report later goes on to say that no votes were actually cast for any candidate instead, investigators either “wrote- in the fictional candidate, “John Test,” or left the poll site after gaining access to the ballot.”
This “Fort Worth Way” of performing election fraud has been going on for decades because no one has been paying close attention. This partly due to the State’s lack of applying appropriate resources and also from taking responsibility for a fair election. Local officials are in on the election fraud, and they benefit and stack the deck to keep it that way.
The biggest issue is that it’s no one individual or entity’s job to enforce the election code and make sure the code is being followed. If one assumed it’s the Secretary of State’s job, you’d be wrong. A request for comment wasn’t returned by the Secretary of State’s office but, according to state statute they don’t enforce the election code. They simply advise and keep records. It’s time that we recognized that election fraud still continues and we hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, or inaction.