East Texas county commissioner accused of vote-harvesting

LONGVIEW, Texas (AP) — An East Texas county commissioner and three different individuals have been indicted on prices that they fraudulently solicited mail-in votes from able-bodied voters by claiming they had been disabled, typically with out the voters’ information or consent.

Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown and three paid employees of Brown’s 2018 Democratic major marketing campaign — Marlena Jackson, Charlie Burns, and DeWayne Ward — had been charged in a 35-page, 134-count indictment returned final week with a number of counts of election-related fraud and file tampering.

The case arises from the Precinct four commissioner’s major race between Brown and his opponent, Kasha Williams, a race that drew greater than 2,000 votes. Based on the Gregg County District Lawyer Tom Watson, greater than 360 mail-in ballots had been requested claiming voter incapacity. By comparability, fewer than 15 mail-in ballots had been requested for the Precincts 1, 2, and three commissioners’ races mixed as a consequence of voter incapacity. In dwell voting, Williams led Brown by greater than 20 share factors. Nonetheless, 74% of the mail-in ballots had been for Brown and gave him a four-vote victory

In a press release, the Texas Lawyer Common’s Workplace mentioned Brown’s group, to extend the pool of ballots wanted to swing the race in Brown’s favor, focused younger, able-bodied voters to solid ballots by mail by fraudulently claiming the voters had been “disabled,” generally with out the voters’ information or consent. Underneath Texas election legislation, mail ballots primarily based on incapacity are particularly reserved for many who are bodily unwell and can’t vote in-person because of this.

Penalties for the assorted violations vary from as much as 99 years in jail for first-degree felony participating in organized election fraud alleged in opposition to Brown, Jackson and Ward to as much as two years in state jail for election fraud and data tampering counts confronted by the 4.

All 4 defendants have been launched on $25,000 bond every. Court docket data listed no attorneys for the 4 on Saturday. Brown has no revealed phone quantity and couldn’t be reached for remark, and phone numbers for the opposite three weren’t accepting calls.

The prosecution comes amid an ongoing marketing campaign by Republicans, in Texas and the nation, to painting voting-by-mail as weak to fraud.

Texas Republican Lawyer Common Ken Paxton has been waging ongoing court docket battles to restrict voting by mail, and President Donald Trump has tried to fan skepticism of mail voting, baselessly claiming that its widespread use will result in fraud.

Trump has warned that mail voting might result in so many individuals voting that “you’d by no means have a Republican elected on this nation once more.” That’s regardless of assertions by consultants, together with from FBI Director Christopher Wray, that no proof exists that voting by mail was fraud-prone. “Now, we’ve not seen, traditionally, any form of coordinated nationwide voter fraud effort in a significant election, whether or not it’s by mail or in any other case,” Wray instructed the Senate. “Now we have seen voter fraud on the native stage on occasion,”

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