Authorities say was a massive voter fraud scheme involving mail-in ballots in order to benefit Democratic candidates has been uncovered in Texas.
Four women have been arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, accused of running an organized campaign to steal mail-in ballots and cast them in favor of Democrats. Experts believe the scheme may have swung results in favor of Democrats in at least two local races.
According to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the voter fraud scheme involved mail-in ballots from elderly Fort Worth voters cast in the 2016 primary election. The four women, in some cases, forged signatures and filled out a number of mail-in ballots. In other cases, the women offered to assist an elderly voter with a mail-in ballot, then filled it out with votes for Democratic candidates and mailed it in.
While the women face felony counts on filling out only 16 ballots, it is believed they stole many more. The total number of votes could number in the hundreds, while authorities warn the total number of votes could be much higher.
While calling it an organized ring, the attorney general’s office could not say if investigation was ongoing or if additional indictments could be expected.
A grand jury indicted Leticia Sanchez, Leticia Sanchez Tepichin, Maria Solis and Laura Parra on Wednesday.
Political consultant Aaron Harris said Friday the case stemmed out of information he provided to investigators back in 2016.
“The harvesters sit around and fill these out by the hundreds, often by the thousands,” he said Friday.
Harris publicly presented documents that year of signatures that didn’t match on applications and envelopes.
These mugshots of the suspects were released by authorities.
In October, Governor Greg Abbott posted on twitter about a voter fraud case under investigation in Tarrant County.
Harris said he’s documented a number of additional people involved in the ring, but recognized the cases can be difficult to prosecute.
“Just because they may have been indicted on one or two, or 16 counts, doesn’t mean they don’t have 200 counts but those are the only 16 that can be proven,” he said.
Tarrant County elections administrator Heider Garcia said Friday his office had cooperated with state investigators. He had not reviewed the indictments but said he expected to reach out to the attorney general’s office to see if anything was identified in election procedures that needed to be corrected.
The indictments show several of the ballots in question were for Democratic candidates.
Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairwoman Deborah Peoples admits that she once met with Leticia Sanchez, one of the suspects. Rather than criticize the arrests, Peoples questions the timing of the arrests, claiming it was politically motivated to happen just before the election.
Here is local news coverage from KTVT, the CBS affiliate in Dallas/Ft. Worth.
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