Several Arrests Made, Felonies Charged in Texas Vote Harvesting Scheme

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Posted: Sep 24, 2020 6:55 PM
Several Arrests Made, Felonies Charged in Texas Vote Harvesting Scheme

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

While the Democrats continue to stick to their narrative that incidents of ballot harvesting and rampant voter fraud are just a bogeyman conjured up by Republicans to disenfranchise people (or something), more evidence continues to prove just how wrong they are. In Texas, four people have been arrested in a ballot harvesting scheme, including a Gregg County commissioner. 

That commissioner, Shannon Brown, 49, was arrested along with Marlena Jackson, 50, Charlie Burns, 84, and DeWayne Ward, 58, according to the Longview News-Journal. Brown alone was charged with 23 felonies including fraudulent use of mail ballot application, tampering with a governmental record with intent to harm or defraud, and good ole election fraud. 

The elderly member of the crime group, Burns, was charged with eight felonies. Brown racked up six felony charges, but Jackson took the cake with 97 felony charges of organized election fraud and illegal voting. 

The charges stem from activity during the 2018 Democratic primary in Texas when Brown won his contest against former Longview City Councilwoman Kasha Williams by just five votes. His victory was secured only after a tie was broken by counting provisional ballots, giving him the five-vote advantage. A recount confirmed his win. Williams challenged the results with a lawsuit.

Gregg County Elections Administrator Kathryn Nealy raised suspicions about the election saying that, for years, a disproportionate number of mail-in ballots came into the South Longview voting precinct. Things got stranger still when more than 230 mailed in ballots bore the signature of just five different people who claimed to have assisted the person casting the ballot. 

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton detailed the alleged intent of the defendants to fraudulently steal elections. 

To increase the pool of ballots needed to swing the race in Brown’s favor, the group targeted young, able-bodied voters to cast ballots by mail by fraudulently claiming the voters were “disabled,” in most cases without the voters’ knowledge or consent. Under Texas election law, mail ballots based on disability are specifically reserved for those who are physically ill and cannot vote in-person as a result.  

In total, the state filed 134 felony charges against the four defendants, including engaging in organized election fraud, illegal voting, fraudulent use of an application for a mail-in ballot, unlawful possession of a mail-in ballot, tampering with a governmental record, and election fraud. Penalties for these offenses range from six months in state jail to 99 years in prison.  

Paxton himself praised the work of investigators and underscored the importance of election integrity. 

"It is an unfortunate reality that elections can be stolen outright by mail ballot fraud. 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,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Mail ballots are vulnerable to diversion, coercion, and influence by organized vote harvesting schemes. This case demonstrates my commitment to ensuring Texas has the most secure elections in the country, and I thank the Gregg County Sheriff and District Attorney for their continued partnership. Those who try to manipulate the outcome of elections in Texas must be held accountable.”