Ken Paxton

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Four Indicted by Brooks County Grand Jury for Voter Fraud Committed During 2006 Primary

FALFURRIAS Four Duval County residents today were indicted by a Brooks County grand jury and charged with illegally handling ballot applications and mail-in ballots that belonged to other voters during the 2006 primary election.

The charge of possessing and handling the ballot of another person is a Class B misdemeanor, a violation of the Texas Election Code. The four San Diego residents indicted in Brooks County today were Lydia Molina, 70; Maria Kena Soriano, 71; Elva Lazo, 62; and Maria Trigo, 55. They were taken into custody today in Duval County.

The defendants allegedly delivered mail-in ballot applications to numerous residents in Duval County, many of whom were ineligible to vote by mail. Only those who are disabled, age 65 and above, or expect to be out of the county during an election are eligible to vote by mail. The completed ballot applications mailed to the voter registrar by the defendants typically included a box check-marked to indicate many of the voters were disabled when they were not.

The voter registrar’s office then mailed the actual ballots to the residents. Once the ballots were completed by the residents, the defendants allegedly retrieved these and mailed them to the registrar to be counted without identifying themselves on the carrier envelope.

To protect voters who rely on others to help them during elections, Texas law requires that those who provide assistance properly identify themselves on carrier envelopes used to transmit mail-in ballots. The defendants did not provide their names, addresses and signatures on these envelopes as required. A Class B misdemeanor violation of the Election Code can result in up to 180 days jail, a maximum $2,000 fine, or both.

Last June, several Starr and Hidalgo County residents were also indicted in Brooks County on various charges of voter fraud for their conduct during the 2006 election cycle. A grand jury returned felony indictments against the defendants in an investigation that began with a complaint filed by Starr County Elections Administrator. That case is ongoing.