in Houston, Texas

Voter fraud persists in South Texas as enforcement efforts fail

Photo of postal drop boxes by flickr user The Truth About.
Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010, 07:08PM CST
By Steve Miller

MATHIS, Texas --- South Texas is rife with agents from local political camps who prosper by organizing mail-in ballot fraud, elections administrators and other observers in the region say, even after a state-level push to curb the wrongdoing.

The office of state Attorney General Greg Abbott has several open investigations into the practice of shepherding mail-in ballots, mostly in the name of elderly voters. But perpetrators leave a sparse paper trail, election officials say, and the potential five-figure earnings for local operatives far outweigh any punishment levied for committing fraud, typically a misdemeanor.

“It’s a racket,” said Nicole Perez, general manager of the Alice Echo-News Journal, a daily newspaper that has chronicled voting malfeasance in the region for years. A canvasser can earn as much as $30,000 during a political season, Perez said, by walking elderly and infirm voters through the mail-in ballot process, coaching their vote for the favored candidate and helping those voters sign, seal and deliver that ballot.

Perez led her newsroom in a 2008 investigation of checking each mail-in ballot in two counties, lining up the signature on file for each voter with the signatures on the request form and return form for the mail-in ballot.

Nicole PerezPEREZ

The newspaper found numerous inconsistencies in the voting process for the March 2008 primary in Jim Wells County. Findings included unaccounted for mail-in ballots; duplicate, and in some cases, triplicate, mail-in ballot applications for one person; and some applications that cited disability as the reason for voting by mail when the voter had no disability.

The newspaper's stories coincided with a state AG's investigation, but despite the newspaper's interviews and documentation of seemingly blatant abuses of the voting process, only three minor charges have been filed so far.

The current penalties for committing the fraud -- in the same penalty class as first-offense shoplifting -- are doing little to discourage the practice. Despite cautionary reports from elected leaders in Austin, lawmakers have failed to address the issue of a tainted mail-in ballot process.

On the horizon, though, is a consortium of South Texas elections administrators who plan to take their concerns about voter fraud to the statehouse during the next legislative session. Elections administrators in 10 counties -- Willacy, Kenedy, Jim Wells, Cameron, Duval, Hidalgo, Webb, Nueces, San Patricio and Starr -- are passing on complaints from the voters.

“The elderly are finally speaking up,” said Pam Hill, elections administrator for San Patricio County and a member of the consortium. “We don’t know how many years it’s been going on ... but they’re saying, ‘Someone is coming and taking my ballot, and they’re voting for me.’ And that is their biggest complaint. And of course, that is illegal.”

CONTINUES

Page 2: Use of politiqueros takes illegal turn

Page 3: Stiffer penalties a solution?

Related: More extended video interviews

Related: Politiquero tradition shapes elections in South Texas

Comments
Robbins Mitchell
Thursday, 04/08/2010 - 09:19AM

Something tells me that George Parr...the "Duke of Duvall"...is laughing his ass off somewhere.

Video
KTRK: On Big Screens for Billionaires, Comptroller Susan Combs Silent
Related Blogs and Media
State Rep candidate, in email, shows scorn for Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson I suppose it’s not much of a shock to her supporters but Texas House District 150 Republican candidate Valoree Swanson is no fan of...
Update:1 day 13 hours
Big Jolly Politics
Leaked email shows current & former ESD 11 Commissioners asked to serve on voter guide panel Two current & two former Harris County Emergency Services District 11 Commissioners are among the group of 26 people asked to...
Update:1 day 15 hours
Big Jolly Politics
Don't gloat that Texas is ahead on forensic-science reform Meagan Flynn at the Houston Press is right that Texas is ahead of the feds and the rest of the country right now on forensic science...
Update:1 day 23 hours
Grits for Breakfast
Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: The Defensive Line 926 Robbie St. [HAR] … Read...
Update:2 days 11 hours
Swamplot
Ivy Lofts To Release Even Newer Drawings in October, Break Ground in January Actually, the rendering above is not the newest look for the Ivy Lofts, PR head Jared Anthony tells Swamplot this afternoon. Anthony says...
Update:2 days 11 hours
Swamplot
BJ’s Oldies Not Pulling Out of Westheimer at Park St., Just Shifting Around a Little This morning a reader spotted some cleaning out going on at the Westheimer Rd. storefront of BJ’s Oldies Antiques. The shop...
Update:2 days 14 hours
Swamplot
With poll numbers stagnant, Stein and Johnson spend big in August Libertarian White House candidate Gary Johnson had a fundraisinig boomlet in August; he hopes to build poll numbers so he can participate...
Update:2 days 14 hours
Open Secrets
Larry Lessig takes his plan to Congress Lawrence Lessig pushed public funding and voucher programs at a discussion on campaign finance this week. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Lawrence...
Update:2 days 17 hours
Open Secrets
Swamplot Sponsor: Central Bank Today’s sponsor: Houston’s own Central Bank. Swamplot appreciates the continued support! Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston...
Update:2 days 17 hours
Swamplot
Oyster Tycoons Fight over Baybottom Territory as Reefs Recover from Flooding More action is expected next week in the Galveston County courtroom hosting part of the ongoing underwater real estate fight...
Update:2 days 18 hours
Swamplot
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 4 years 3 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 4 years 3 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 4 years 3 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 4 years 3 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 4 years 3 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services" http://t.co/TOLgRVak
TxDOT | 4 years 3 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 4 years 3 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 4 years 3 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
© 2016 TEXAS WATCHDOG and USELABS. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Statement