Over 100 felony charges have been filed in a voter fraud case involving mail-in ballots out of Texas.
According to Fox News, four people have been arrested, each on multiple charges, for their participation in a ballot harvesting conspiracy in the 2018 midterms.
The arrests were announced Thursday by the state’s Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton.
134 felony charges
According to Paxton, a total of 134 indictments were brought against four individuals, Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown, Marlena Jackson, Charlie Burns, and DeWayne Ward, for cheating in Brown’s primary race in 2018 — a contest he won by just five votes. Almost 40% of ballots in that race were cast by mail, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Paxton said Thursday that the group of four defrauded “young, able-bodied” voters by claiming that they were disabled in order to obtain mail-in ballots, and then voting on their behalf for Brown without their knowledge or consent, Fox reported.
The charges filed include election fraud, tampering with a governmental record, mail-in ballot fraud, and more, and the penalties range from six months to 99 years behind bars. According to Fox, Jackson, who is reported to be Brown’s wife, is facing 97 counts on her own. Brown is facing 23 charges.
“It is an unfortunate reality that elections can be stolen outright by mail ballot fraud,” Paxton said in his Thursday statement. “Election fraud, particularly an organized mail ballot fraud scheme orchestrated by political operatives, is an affront to democracy and results in voter disenfranchisement and corruption at the highest level.”
Fraud risk shadows 2020 race
In Texas, voters must list certain circumstances to get an absentee ballot, such as having a disability. Democrats in the state have fought to classify fear of the coronavirus as a disability, as part of a wider push nationwide to make voting by mail easier this year.
The state’s Supreme Court recently decided that fear of COVID-19 doesn’t count, but voters must decide for themselves whether they are disabled, and they are not required to specify their disabling condition, The Dallas Morning News notes.
Paxton, for his part, is also suing Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins for sending out over 2 million unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots, according to Fox.
President Donald Trump has warned that the widespread use of mail-in ballots this election will make fraud more likely, but Democrats have long insisted that voter fraud is essentially non-existent — a claim belied by this two-year-old case, and others that have continued to crop up.
“Mail ballots are vulnerable to diversion, coercion, and influence by organized vote-harvesting schemes,” Paxton said Thursday, according to the Morning News. “Those who try to manipulate the outcome of elections in Texas must be held accountable.”