Texas Border County DA Lands Third Voter Fraud Arrest in Month

oters line up to cast their ballots on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.
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The voter fraud investigation in Starr County, Texas, yielded its third arrest late Tuesday when a woman turned herself in to the Special Crimes Unit.

Belinda Garcia, 45, surrendered to the Starr County Special Crimes Unit and stands charged with one count of a fraudulent application for ballot by mail, the Brownsville Herald reported.

“We’ve tried to educate people and warn people about these new laws as of December of last year,” Escobar told reporters Tuesday night. “But apparently some people just refuse to follow these new laws.” The district attorney referenced the new voter fraud prevention law that went into effect on December 1, 2017.

The border county DA said this is the second arrest for fraudulently applying for a ballot by indicating the person was disabled when they were not. It appears there may be more than one voter involved in Garcia’s case, Escobar stated. He indicated there may be additional charges coming for her soon.

On February 3, DA Escobar announced the arrest of 37-year-old Erika Lozano-Pelayo, Breitbart Texas reported. The Starr County Elections Department found that a ballot application submitted by Lozano-Pelayo was for a voter who had previously died in December, yet remained on the voter registration rolls for roughly a month thereafter.

“Our legislature has given us a very clear mandate to begin and try to prevent voter fraud,” Escobar told The Monitor.

A few days earlier, the DA announced the arrest of a Starr County Independent School District employee for alleged voter fraud.

Fifty-year-old Ernestina Barron was arrested Monday on three counts of election fraud, and three counts of a fraudulent application for ballot by mail Breitbart Texas reported.

Barron allegedly filed a ballot application for a rodeo cowboy and claimed the person was disabled. Two other counts of voter fraud related to her allegedly having the voter sign an incomplete application and for allegedly registering a convicted felon on probation.

Late last week, Escobar invited Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to assist his office in what may become a large number of cases, Breitbart Texas reported.

“DA Escobar’s concerns include mail-in ballot application fraud, unlawful influencing of voters, unlawful mail ballot collection by vote harvesters, and illegal voting by non-residents and non-citizens,” Paxton said in a statement. “There have been two arrests in an ongoing investigation by Escobar’s office into mail ballot voter fraud in the Rio Grande Valley. Senate Bill 5, enacted by the Texas Legislature last session, made it a state jail felony to provide false information on a ballot application or submit an application without a voter’s permission.”

Starr County is located on the U.S.-Mexico Border in the Rio Grande City and McAllen-Edinburg statistical area. According to the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), the county is listed along with 12 others in Texas as having more registered voters than eligible residents, Breitbart Texas reported in October 2017. The other jurisdictions on the list are Loving, Brooks, Irion, McMullen, Kenedy, Jim Hogg, Culberson, Edwards, Roberts, Polk, Kent, and Cottle Counties.

The PILF filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union in March 2016 against the election administrator in Starr County. The groups allege the county is failing to use reasonable efforts to keep the voter rolls maintained–which can invite voter fraud.

On January 20, Breitbart Texas reported that Starr County District Attorney Escobar pledged a crackdown on voting fraud after questionable applications for mail-in ballot applications surfaced. The DA also gave the elections department a list of those convicted of felonies, including those who are on felony probation and ineligible to vote for the purpose of removing them from the rolls.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGab, and Facebook.

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