Arizona Democrat pleads guilty to illegal ballot harvesting

Conservatives are often mocked for expressing concerns over the potential for voter fraud. However, news story from Arizona is likely to strengthen their convictions.

The Associated Press has reported that ” a well-known Democratic operative” pleaded guilty last Thursday to illegally collecting early ballots in the 2020 primary election.

Former mayor convicted

The AP explained that 66-year-old Guillermina Fuentes entered into a plea agreement that saw additional charges of forgery and conspiracy charges dismissed.

Authorities alleged that the Democratic activist coordinated “a sophisticated operation” in San Luis, a city adjacent to the Mexican border.

She and another woman carried out a practice known as “ballot harvesting,” which involves collecting and submitting absentee ballots on behalf of voters. Under an Arizona law passed in 2016, ballots can only be submitted by a registered voter or a close family member.

What’s more, prosecutors asserted that in addition to illegally collecting ballots, Fuentes also forged signatures and filled out at least one ballot herself–charges which they were apparently unable to prove.

As a result of the deal, Fuentes is more likely to receive probation rather than the lengthy prison sentence which she could have faced.

The Associated Press noted that sentencing discretion ultimately lies with Fuentes’ judge, and while she could be given up to two years behind bars, probation, a sizable fine, home confinement, or some combination of three is considered to be a more likely outcome.

Happening “for a long time”

What’s more, Fuentes will also lose her voting rights and be barred from holding public office. She previously served as mayor of San Luis and currently serves as a board member of the Gadsden Elementary School District.

Anne Chapman serves as Fuentes, and in an email to the Associated Press, she accused Arizona’s ballot collection law as being part of an effort to suppress voter turn-out among minorities.

Chapman complained that her client’s “prosecution shows that the law is part of ongoing anti-democratic, state-wide, and national voter suppression efforts.”

However, the news service also noted that Republican state Rep. Tim Dunn cited the case during a legislative hearing, saying that voter fraud “has been going on for a long time” and that “you can’t have free and fair elections in south county.”

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