South Texas elections chiefs to meet with lawmakers Tuesday on voter fraud

A group of South Texas elections administrators will meet Tuesday with a cadre of state and U.S. representatives or their designees in a push to enact stronger laws targeting voter fraud.

The meeting, to he held at the offices of the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce in Kleberg County, south of Corpus Christi, marks the end of a long quest by elections officials in several South Texas counties who have complained to elected representatives in Austin about voter fraud issues for years but say they have received zero help.


“Now, if they hear something from us about an incident, at least they will know who we are,” said Roy Ruiz, elections administrator in Kenedy County. He is part of the group, which earlier this year began informally discussing voting issues unique to the region. Most of those issues revolved around voter fraud.


Ruiz, along with a couple other colleagues, have testified at state hearings on elections and urged state officials to enact legislation to address what some portray as routine voter fraud, particularly in the mail-in ballot process.


"We need to step up prosecutions and investigations of these voter fraud cases," said Rafael Montalvo, elections administrator in Starr County.


Texas Watchdog has documented the election administrators' complaints in a series of stories this year on mail-in voter fraud in South Texas.


Among the officials invited to attend Tuesday's meeting are state Reps. Ryan Guillen and Aaron PeñaU.S. Reps Solomon Ortiz and Rubén Hinojosa, a representative from the Texas Secretary of State’s election division and some state candidates, including J.M. Lozano, who is running for the District 43 House seat.


Ruiz will present the agenda and will be joined by an expected 10 other elections administrators, including the election chiefs from HidalgoStarrWebbJim Wells and Cameron counties.


Among the issues for discussion: controlling voter registration cards to prevent illegal voter registration, strengthening penalties for vote harvesting and coercion of absentee voters, and - reluctantly – voter ID.


“That’s the one we hate to have to address, but it is a reality and a possibility,” Ruiz said. Voter ID has been largely a political issue that some say comes from Washington Republicans bent on stemming illegal immigration and illegal immigrants casting ballots, which as a rule go to Democrats. Here is a study of voter ID requirements in the U.S.


The group will also look at the new voter registration card, which was designed without much input from elections administrators, Montalvo said.


Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.