A former Bee County commissioner will be arraigned on May 29 on election fraud charges stemming from an alleged scheme to illegally register family members at an abandoned house so they could vote for another relative running for office. 

Carlos Salazar Jr., a deputy voter registrar and former Democrat county commissioner in Bee County southeast of San Antonio, faces four counts of tampering with government records and four counts of false application for voter ballot. 

The sworn complaints allege that he coordinated with his brother Edward Salazar to register Edward, Edward’s wife Linda Salazar, and their sons Edward Lucas Salazar and Nathan Presley Salazar at 1401 W. Crockett St. in Beeville.

The home at that address is abandoned.

Bee County Elections Administrator Laura Warnix explained that Carlos Salazar filled out the four applications, while Edward Salazar signed three and Linda Salazar signed the fourth. Edward Lucas Salazar was indicted on one count of illegal voting on November 2, 2022, after affirming that he lived at the vacant address.

The charges are Class A misdemeanors. If convicted, each count carries up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.

Edward and his wife Linda Salazar each received two years of probation for agreeing to cooperate with authorities and testify in court if needed.

Edward Lucas Salazar also has a court announcement on May 29. 

If the case proceeds to trial, he will appear alongside his uncle on June 25.

In his defense motions, Carlos Salazar claimed that as a deputy voter registrar, he could not refuse help to anyone who wanted to change their address. He acknowledged that he “believed the address was false” but still sent the documents to Warnix.

Warnix disagreed, “While he cannot reject it himself, it’s his duty to make sure it is accurate and complete.”

“Carlos is notorious for filling these forms out himself and we’ve had multiple prior conversations with him about this,” she continued.

Carlos Salazar did not deny these actions. 

Rather, he alleged that Edward Salazar assured him the family would live at the Crockett St. address after the general election, when he planned to run for justice of the peace. Carlos Salazar claimed that despite questions and expressing disapproval, Edward Salazar insisted on signing his and his sons’ applications. 

“There’d be no reason to do it that early,” Warnix countered. “They changed the address to vote for his sister [Susana Contreras] in her JP precinct. If his sister lost in the 2022 general then the next time it came up, Edward was going to run. But that would not happen for four years.”

Contreras won her race in 2022 by a wide margin.

In May 2023, Edward Salazar was elected Sub-District II Trustee for the Beeville Independent School District. He did not list the Crockett St. address in that application.

Carlos Salazar ran as a Democrat candidate for Bee County Commissioner in 2016 and 2020, but he lost in the 2024 Republican primary against Kristoffer Linney. 

On December 12, 2023, Carlos Salazar’s Facebook post accused County Attorney Brian Watson of “election interference” and “helping my opponent.” 

He wrote, “The ‘false application for voter ballot’ has been rightfully dropped. I am going through legal counsel to dispute the other charge, which totally misrepresents my actions.”

However, in his “Motion for Finding of Not Guilty,” filed on January 29, 2024, Salazar still had the eight original charges on record. The charges also remained listed in an amended motion filed on February 13.

Whatever the case outcome, Warnix encourages deputy voter registrars to require voters to complete forms themselves and request proper identification should a voter request assistance with filling out a form.

“If you have questions, then call the Elections Administration’s office so that we can assist you. We work for the voters, and we want to make sure that their vote counts.”

Ian Camacho

Ian Camacho graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and is a Precinct Chair-Elect for the McLennan County Republican Party. @RealIanCamacho.