Voter Fraud Arrests Complicate Election Administration

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The list of individuals implicated in a South Texas voter fraud scheme continues to grow. This week, Francisco Tamez, Jr. was arraigned for allegedly voting illegally in both the November 2017 and March 2018 elections.

Illegal voting is a second-degree felony and imperils those charged with up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Tamez is charged along with others in illegal voting that resulted in Richard Molina becoming mayor of Edinburg. Molina and his wife were arrested and charged earlier this year in a far-reaching scheme that has resulted in the arrests of more than 20 individuals.

The couple is accused of having voters change their addresses so they would be eligible to vote for Molina in the election. Some addresses are alleged to have been changed to an apartment complex owned by Molina.

Like Tamez some stand accused of illegally voting in the November 2017 election because they were ineligible to do so or, as the Molina’s stand accused, allowing individuals who did not live in the city to use their addresses to register and vote.

The continued expansion of charges and the Molina web means election administration in Edinburg is getting complicated.

City secretary, Ludivina Leal was arrested earlier in September and charged with voting illegally.

Following her arrest, a motion was made for her removal but failed in a 2-2 tie vote. Despite surviving removal, Leal will not be the point person for local elections in 2019 according to the Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramón

Instead, the city attorney’s office will oversee the 2019 municipal election. Still, there is widespread concern among citizens and candidates. Carlos Jasso, a candidate for city council has requested that the Secretary of State’s office oversee the election given the continually unfolding charges and it’s reach into local government.

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