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Dallas County’s ongoing criminal voter fraud investigation has netted its first indictment.

A grand jury charged Miguel Hernandez with illegal voting, a second-degree felony, on Monday. Hernandez is accused of being part of an illegal mail ballot harvesting scheme that targeted elderly West Dallas voters in this May’s local elections.

Authorities issued an arrest warrant for Hernandez last month. He was apprehended Wednesday.

The voter fraud investigation, now being conducted jointly by the Dallas County District Attorney’s office and the Texas Attorney General’s office, is focused on mail-in ballots that prosecutors believe were either fraudulently obtained through illegal voter “assistance,” or forged – or both.

The voter that Hernandez is charged with defrauding told the DA’s office she gave the suspect her blank mail-in ballot. That ballot later arrived at the Dallas County Elections Office filled out for a Dallas City Council candidate and with a forged version of the voter’s signature.

The forged ballot also had the signature of an assistant, “Jose Rodriguez,” which investigators determined was a fake name used by Hernandez on hundreds of mail ballots in the May elections. Over 700 suspicious ballots were set aside for extra scrutiny before being counted; those determined to be fraudulent were turned over to the DA’s office for forensic testing.

Pat Stephens, the West Dallas voter who helped nab Hernandez, was suspicious when he knocked on her door asking for her mail ballot:

Stephens told the man she hadn’t requested one and demanded to know how he’d gotten her name. The man said he worked for Dallas County, Stephens said, and showed her a typed list that had her name and her husband’s highlighted. Wary of this stranger, who she said stood about 5-foot-7, she demanded to see his ID. 

He gave Stephens his driver’s license, which she photographed using her cellphone. It said “Miguel Hernandez,” listed his height as 5-foot-7, and had the same address listed on the arrest warrant issued in June. Other West Dallas residents would also claim to have been visited by the same man.

As complaints were rolling in about the suspicious ballot harvesters, Democrat operatives revealed how easy it is to steal mail ballots in Dallas County and described how vote harvesting schemes target elderly voters.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda for the special session starting next week calls on lawmakers to pass reforms “enhancing the detection, prosecution, and elimination of mail-in ballot fraud.”

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