Skip to comments.Voting Fraud Alleged In Duval County, Texas
Posted on 04/24/2006 5:02:06 AM PDT by texianyankee
High turnout prompts a probe by secretary of state
SAN DIEGO - A dead man sending off for a mail-in ballot for the March primary was just one of the clues that brought investigators from the Texas attorney general's office to Duval County.
Assistant District Attorney Jon West had only been on the job for about three months when the voter fraud allegations started surfacing.
The post office returned several rejected mail-in ballot applications to residents who said that they had not sent them. And in one case, a woman complained that her father could not have sent a mail-in application, because he was dead, West said.
Mail-in ballots are supposed to be used only by registered voters 65 or older, people with disabilities, those who will be out of the county on Election Day and during early voting, or eligible voters in jail.
To get one, voters must send an application, which includes identifiers such as name, birthday and Social Security number to the secretary of state for verification.
"We had several bounce back because they had the wrong driver's license or wrong date of birth," West said. "When they came back to the addresses reflected on the applications, the people living at those addresses brought them into my office and said that the people on the applications did not reside at the address."
The secretary of state's office got involved after several county residents and West called to say something was amiss with the election, said secretary of state's general counsel Trey Trainor.
Because the most common voter fraud allegations referred by the secretary of state to the attorney general stem from mail-in ballot issues, it also was suspicious that 2,800 of 5,445 primary ballots were cast by mail, Trainor said.
"That is extremely high and does point to very unusual circumstances that needed further investigation," he said. "In this case, both the numbers that were reported and the reports we had that voter fraud was taking place, we felt we needed to refer it to the attorney general's office."
Duval County's astronomical voter turnout, more than five times the state average, with 5,533, or 55 percent, of the county's 9,839 registered voters turning out in the county judge's race and 5,317, or 54 percent, voting in the treasurer's election, also caught the secretary of state's eye.
"Half of the registered population is highly unlikely," Trainor said.
Trainor said it could take months to wade through the allegations that have been presented. He refused to speculate on the severity of the allegations.
"We have had several actual prosecutions (in other counties) that resulted in fines and imprisonment," Trainor said. "I can't say if this is the worst yet because the investigation is not complete."
Some Duval County residents say it's just politics as usual.
Getting out the vote is a tradition in the county, with paid poll workers, called politiqueras, walking blocks in the county's towns on behalf of their respective candidates, said lifelong resident Daniel U. Garciacq, 80.
Garcia, who went to college, said poll workers take advantage of the least-educated residents in Duval County, telling them for whom to vote and, in some cases, sweetening the deal with cash payments or political favors.
Door-to-door canvassing is not illegal, but individuals voting by mail are often the ones complaining they feel like they are being harassed to vote a certain way, Trainor said. It's another common referral for voter fraud investigation.
"They say people want to 'help' them with their vote," Trainor said.
Poll workers also use promises and threats to cajole voters into voting for a candidate, Garcia and fellow Duval County resident and former longtime San Diego ISD school board member Tomas Molinacq said.
Molinacq, 59, said because the vast majority of jobs here are with the county and the school district, there is an unspoken threat that if people don't show up to vote, or vote against the prevailing political system, that they or their family members could lose their jobs.
Sometimes there is also the promise of a job for an unemployed family member if a vote is cast a certain way, Garcia said.
In a county where the unemployment rate hovers around 30 percent and jobs are hard to come by, that's serious business, Molina said.
"People are threatened with losing their job," he said. "That is always the implication. 'You need to vote this way or that way,' because you have two or three cousins working at the school or the county."
Come election day, poll workers set up tents at the polling places and monitor who's coming and going, checking off the names of registered voters as they pass on their way to vote.
"They have drinks and they invite you to the tents," Garcia said. "They have already been to all the people in town asking them to come and vote. They still buy votes with beer and intimidation. Before closing time they make a check of who was absent and they go out and call them in and bring them to the polls."
Duval County District Attorney Heriberto "Herbie" Silva, who was first elected in 1989, said if he had been made aware of poll workers paying for votes or telling voters how to vote, he would be prosecuting the offenders.
Politics in Duval County are no different from politics anywhere else, he said.
"What about the dead guy? You see that in every county," Silva said. "You find someone that is not eligible to vote. That is not unique to Duval County."
Neither is marshalling as many votes as possible by getting friends and neighbors out to vote.
"I go door-to-door and ask people to vote," he said. "There is nothing illegal about that. I certainly have my own poll-watchers. I buy a voter registration list and I try to see which people have voted and which have not. If you have friends or relatives who have not gone out to vote, you try to get them out to vote. That is the nature of the game."
Garcia countered that a closer look will reveal that Duval County politics are not like everywhere else, Instead, it's the same system that Duval County has been known for since the great patron, George Parr, also known as the "Duke of Duval," helped Lyndon B. Johnson steal a U.S. Senate election in the infamous 1948 "Box 13" voter fraud scandal, Garcia said.
The players change, but there is always a political faction in control of the county, he said.
"The thing that is wrong with it is they control the vote," Garcia said. "The party in power controls the vote. Everybody is in cahoots from the bottom to the top. It's always been."
I didn't see a single mention of party affiliation.
I guess it's safe to assume this involves a bunch of Democrats?
It's the way they have always done things in the Mexican part of Texas...and it's coming to your part of the country now too.
Excellent point.....somehow the author of this newsarticle failed to mention it.... I guess it's safe to assume this involves a bunch of Democrats?
Extremely safe assumption. I forget the percentage of dims, but it is extremely high. In fact, I dont believe there is a Republican Party organization in Duval County. My guess, Duval County is about 95 percent Hispanic.
Only 55% of registered voters???
Hell, they're amateurs, in Philly we've got areas that got 108%. In the heart of Rendell territory.
By different chapter, I assume you're referring to LBJ's "recount" when he ran for the US House and the fact that the courthouse burned down the night before the recount.
Yeah, it's a Democrat thing.
I guess they got a lot yet to learn, then. LOL
US Senate race, not house. And I should have read the story more carefully.
Yes, the LBJ thing was the big one, but there have been numerous election scandals since, too.
I dont know what triggered my Father to become a Repubulican & vote straight Republican, but the election between LBJ & Coke Stevenson is my guess. My Dad has mentioned that incident several times. He voted against LBJ and the dims ever since I can remember - which goes back to the '60 election.
I've always said, "There are not enough dead people to elect Hillary president!"
Every single nursing home has such vote "helpers"
What is with latins and corruption?
In Miami, it is just as bad.
It doesn't say anywhere in the article, but I can just bet which party this is...
I can't wait to see how many illegals the dems registered during the protests show up to vote.
You hear all the time too about people who vote Republican until the day they die....then, well....
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