AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that the Election Fraud Unit of his office arrested nine individuals accused of participating in an organized illegal voting scheme in Edinburg. The arrests follow an ongoing investigation into a coordinated effort by political workers to recruit people who agreed to fraudulently claim residential addresses so they could vote in specific city of Edinburg municipal races.
Attorney General Paxton’s office arrested Hidalgo County residents Guadalupe Sanchez Garza, Araceli Gutierrez, Brenda Rodriguez, Rosendo Rodriguez, Cynthia Tamez, Ruby Tamez, Belinda Rodriguez, Felisha Yolanda Rodriguez and Jerry Gonzalez, Jr. The nine individuals will be prosecuted by the Hidalgo County district attorney’s office.
According to Texas law, it is a second-degree felony to vote in an election using a fraudulent residence address and, under a new law, it is a first-degree felony for organizers to engage in organized election fraud activity to commit illegal voting.
“Illegal voting, particularly an organized illegal voting scheme orchestrated by political operatives, is an affront to democracy and results in corruption at the highest level,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Each illegal vote silences the voice of a law-abiding registered voter. My office will continue to do everything in its power to uncover illegal voting schemes and bring to justice those who try to manipulate the outcome of elections in Texas.”
More arrests are expected in connection with the organized illegal voting scheme in Edinburg. Individuals with information about the case are encouraged to come forward and cooperate with the attorney general’s Election Fraud Unit and the Texas Rangers, who are assisting with the investigation. In May, four peoplewere charged with voter fraud stemming from last year’s Edinburg municipal election and, subsequently, a fifth arrest occurred.
From 2005-2017, the attorney general’s office prosecuted 97 defendants for numerous voter fraud violations. This year alone, Attorney General Paxton’s Election Fraud Unit – with assistance from a criminal justice grant from the governor’s office – has prosecuted 33 defendants for a total of 97 election fraud violations. In February, the attorney general announced a significant voter fraud initiative and addressed key problems and policy areas related to election law.