As multiple voter fraud investigations targeting illegal mail ballot harvesting are ongoing in the Metroplex, one in Ellis County, just south of Dallas, has ended in the conviction of an elected law enforcement officer on multiple counts of mail ballot fraud.
A jury found Constable Tyron Davis guilty of six counts of voter fraud for illegally harvesting mail ballot applications at a Waxahachie nursing home while a candidate in the May 2016 Democrat primary runoff.
Davis filled out mail ballot applications for as many as 18 senior citizens, but failed to sign the forms as an “assistant” as required by Texas Election Code. At least one of the voters he assisted suffered from Alzheimer’s.
“It’s still debatable whether the people at the nursing home knew what they were signing when Davis showed up,” said Patrick Wilson, the Republican county and district attorney in Ellis County.
County elections officials spotted the 18 ballot applications with similar handwriting but no assistant signature and notified investigators in the District Attorney’s Office. When the applicants were interviewed, several identified Davis as the person who assisted them and told investigators that they didn’t know what they were signing.
Davis claimed he wasn’t trying to steal votes from seniors; he just wanted to “provide a service” to help them participate in the election. But the elections clerk who gave him the applications said she told Davis that he was required to fill out the section for a witness or assistant if he helped voters complete the forms.
Davis was also convicted of falsely identifying as a peace officer before he was elected and licensed, in ads and on fliers given to the nursing home residents.
All the charges against Davis were misdemeanors. He faced up to a year in county jail but accepted a plea deal that allowed him to escape jail time by resigning, giving up his peace officer’s license, and paying a fine and court costs.
Unsolicited voter “assistance” – often crossing into coercion or involving outright forgery – is at the heart of illegal mail ballot harvesting operations. Harvesters’ targets are voters who are eligible to vote by mail: the elderly and disabled, who may not even realize their votes are being stolen.
In an ongoing voter fraud investigation by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors have issued their first arrest warrant in connection with a scheme to harvest hundreds of mail ballots in the May 2017 local elections. A local Democrat operative revealed how organized ballot harvesters prey on vulnerable voters – including by paying off someone inside the county elections office to find out when ballots are mailed out.
Local watchdog group Direct Action Texas has also filed criminal complaints with the Secretary of State’s office alleging voter fraud in the Metroplex. A complaint filed in April alleges multiple elected officials and canvassers in Dallas County illegally harvested hundreds of ballots in last year’s elections. Another, filed in 2016, describes organized ballot harvesting operations in Tarrant County involving thousands of mail ballots over multiple elections, sparking what’s believed to be the largest voter fraud investigation in Texas history.
Given the persistence of people preying on vulnerable voters to steal ballots and elections, and the minimal penalties for offenders, Gov. Greg Abbott called for “cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud” in his legislative agenda for the July special session.
Texas lawmakers who are sincere about honest elections should make good use of this second chance to pass real reforms before another round of illegal ballot harvesting begins.