At this hour, a sizable number of agents from the office of the Texas Attorney General is on the ground in Tarrant County, going door-to-door investigating allegations of vote harvesting. Residents report seeing agents in several Fort Worth neighborhoods. One source close to the investigation calls the allegations “serious and substantial…it is believed to be the largest case of voter fraud the AG’s office has ever investigated and involves multiple election cycles”.
The investigation has been underway for over a year but only now is the office conducting a sweep of those affected and those believed to be involved.
TownHall.com’s source described the harvesting operation in detail. The perpetrators order mail-in ballots by forging the names of citizens in target districts. They then hire kindly middle-aged and older women to go door-to-door with those ballots in hand. They knock on the door of the citizen whose ballot they have, and make fraudulent claims as to why they are visiting. They may claim they are gathering signatures for a petition, or beg for a signature so they might “meet their quota” for whatever alleged cause they are soliciting on behalf of. Frequently, it is something like “Republicans are trying to take away the rights of black voters”.
The citizen then unknowingly signs the yellow ballot carrier envelope that contains their ballot – a ballot the perpetrators have already filled out that supports their candidate.
In other cases, the harvesters will appear with the citizen’s ballot and ask if they need any help filling it out. As they already have the voter’s historical voting record, they will say something like, “You normally vote all Democrat, right?” -- even thought it is usually a democrat primary or non partisan municipal elections which they are “helping" them with -- and proceed to fill out the ballot as desired by the perpetrators.
The harvesting scheme takes advantage of the most vulnerable citizens: : the elderly, the uneducated, those who don’t speak English as a first language, those in lower income brackets. In cases where the voter resides in a minority neighborhood, a minority harvester is hired to do the dirty work.
At present, only Tarrant County is involved in the investigation. However, the case allegedly includes vote harvesting for all elected offices, from Congressional seats down to constable.
Particularly intriguing is that this includes elected seats for the Tarrant Regional Water District. This reporter filed stories in 2013 and 2014 regarding corruption and eminent domain abuse at the TRWD. In the most recent election cycle, incumbent candidates Jim Lane and Marty Leonard were re-elected in a landslide that so contradicted polls, that some observers insisted that fraud had to be involved.
This what local residents call “The Fort Worth Way” – corruption, vote harvesting, and entrenched self-interest.
TownHall’s source believes that the Attorney General “knows exactly who the parties are that funded and directed the entire operation”. Vote harvesting is a misdemeanor under a 2013 law, and punishment includes fines of up to $4,000 and a year in jail. It is a felony after 2 or more convictions.
The implications of this investigation, however, are far-reaching. Given the relative ease with which the alleged fraud took place, the possibility that similar operations occur all over the country – including for national elections – only serves to demonstrate the systemic problems that exist in the U.S. voting system. Early voting, mail-in ballots, and absentee ballots create opportunity for widespread fraud, bolstering the case for the a national voting standards, including voter ID verification.