More alleged mail ballot voter fraud is under investigation in Dallas County.
In the wake of last year’s vote harvesting scandal, county elections officials are monitoring ballot-by-mail applications and mail-in ballots for the March 6 primary elections.
They’ve already found potentially fraudulent ballot applications, including some in the names of deceased voters, and turned them over to the district attorney’s office. At least one voter has reported receiving a ballot they didn’t request.
Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole confirmed that a judge granted the DA’s request to sequester any suspicious mail-in ballots or applications her office finds. They’ll be set aside for extra scrutiny.
The DA’s office is still investigating widespread mail ballot fraud in last May’s city elections. Prosecutors believe hundreds of mail ballots were fraudulently obtained through illegal voter “assistance” or forged – or both.
Pippins-Poole acknowledges that illegal vote harvesting is an ongoing problem in Dallas County.
But a new law enacted last year to crack down on mail ballot voter fraud should help deter harvesters looking to steal votes. It’s now a state jail felony to provide false information on a ballot application or submit an application without a voter’s permission.
“We want people to know, when you are there harvesting applications or harvesting ballots, and it becomes organized group crime, there are some stiff penalties for you,” Pippins-Poole said.
She’s cautioning voters as well, advising them to mail their own ballots.
“If someone comes to your home asking for your ballot, let me help you with your ballot, stop,” Pippins-Poole warned. “If you don’t know that person, don’t allow it.”
The elections office also began limiting the number of pre-printed ballot applications it provides to the public and is keeping track of who gets them. But that won’t do much to limit voter fraud. Vote harvesters can still print as many mail-in ballot applications as they want from the county elections website, with no tracking.
Perennial voter fraud problems have contributed to voters’ loss of confidence in Pippins-Poole since she was appointed in 2011 by the Democrat-dominated county elections board. She was also caught last year soliciting cash donations from several of the elections department’s biggest vendors.
A more aggressive voter fraud investigation is ongoing in the Rio Grande Valley. So far, Starr County authorities have arrested three people on mail ballot voter fraud charges. All three face at least one felony count for lying on ballot applications for the March 6 primaries.
Starr County District Attorney Omar Escobar also warned voters to “take great care in handing over any kind of election materials to politiqueras.”
Escobar, a Democrat, is working with other local and state officials to protect the rights of voters who are victims of mail ballot harvesters, primarily elderly, disabled, and minority voters. Yet Texas’ Democrat Party remains tone-deaf on the topic, railing about non-existent “voter suppression” and ridiculing concerns about election integrity. When TDP chairman Gilberto Hinojosa defended a South Texas city commissioner accused of voter fraud (who later pleaded guilty), he argued at trial that vote harvesting and voters registering where they don’t live is business as usual in the Rio Grande Valley. “What difference does it make where anybody sleeps?” Hinojosa asked.
It makes a difference to Escobar – and to voters in Starr, Dallas, and counties across Texas. “What we want,” he says, “is for everybody to follow the election rules.”

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.