Investigators in a Texas border county arrested an employee of the local school district for allegedly filling out applications illegally for other voters. The arrest is part of a crackdown on voter fraud in Starr County.
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 reported The Monitor in McAllen, Texas.
The election fraud violation is a Class A misdemeanor and the fraud related to an application for a mail-in ballot is a state jail felony.
The Monitor reported that the Starr County Special Crimes Unit arrested Barron at Veterans Middle School in the Rio Grande City Consolidated Independent School District (RGCCISD).
Criminal investigators’ interviews with three voters led to the charges against Barron.
The first person, a cowboy who competes in roping events, was listed as disabled although he is not. The second person said Barron told them to sign the application before she left with it. The third application involved a person who was on felony probation and told Barron they were ineligible to vote.
The commander of the special crimes unit told the media outlet that the crimes were “in-your-face” and do not require in-depth investigation. Commander Robert Caples added, “If we were able to find this right out in the open, then it leaves the question what else is out there.”
Breitbart Texas reported on January 20 that Starr County District Attorney Omar Escobar announced his office was investigating illegal voting and voter application irregularities.
The 229th District Attorney told The Monitor there were questionable applications for mail-in ballots and he suspected that people were dishonest when they completed their mail voting applications. The DA also found noncitizens who had registered. As part of the effort to stop illegal voting activities, Escobar gave the elections department a list of those convicted of felonies and on felony probation and were thus ineligible to vote.
Escobar notified the public about changes in the Texas Election Code that make it a state jail felony to provide false information on a voter application or to submit a voter application without the voter’s consent.
The border DA was reported to say, “We are looking to enforce the new election laws passed by our legislature … We want to encourage everyone to vote, but we want to make sure it is the voter’s vote, not someone else’s vote.”
Escobar added, “When people realize the things that can be found in this type of investigation, then maybe other counties will do the same.”
“If we can find these types of violations in Starr County,” the Starr County Special Crimes Unit Commander Robert Caples told the local newspaper, “just imagine the can of worms that is waiting in Hidalgo County.”
Starr County is located on the U.S.-Mexico Border and is in the Rio Grande City and McAllen-Edinburg statistical area.
The American Civil Rights Union, a legal organization founded by a former Reagan Administration member, sued Starr County in 2016 claiming there are more registered voters than eligible citizens resident there. Starr County is among 13 Texas counties having over-registered voters, Breitbart Texas reported in October 2017. The other Texas counties are Loving, Brooks, Irion, McMullen, Kenedy, Jim Hogg, Culberson, Edwards, Roberts, Polk, Kent, and Cottle, according to the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF).
Breitbart Texas reported earlier in January that Harris and Bexar Counties face similar federal litigation involving voter roll maintenance records.
The PILF recently gave final notice to Harris County officials, informing them they face “federal litigation should [they] continue to deny access to the requested records” of noncitizens registered to vote. Federal law gives them 90 days to comply with the request before a lawsuit can be filed.
“Harris County is hiding public information about the extent of noncitizen registration and voting,” said PILF president and general counsel, J. Christian Adams. “Harris County is no stranger to the issue of noncitizen voter registration. Evidence and testimony about the matter have been provided to the Texas Legislature and U.S. Supreme Court.”
Adams added, “This isn’t a question about the existence of alien voting — but the scale. We will go to federal court if we must to obtain these public records.”
Breitbart Texas reported that PILF put Bexar County on notice after the elections administrator refused to disclose noncitizen voting records as well.
Breitbart Texas recently reported that Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands told her commissioners court that candidates reported various forms of election fraud. A city constable candidate received what was described as “constant” complaints from voters about mail-in ballot coercion. Others were reported to be perpetrating election fraud by “cultivating and harvesting votes in large quantities.” Another candidate was approached by someone who promised they could get 250 ballots in exchange for a payment of $1,000.
Editor’s Note: A quote above was originally attributed to the Starr County district attorney. That quote has now been correctly attributed to the Starr County Special Crimes Unit Commander Robert Caples.
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 @BobPriceBBTX, Gab, and Facebook.
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