Four Hidalgo County voters have been arrested in connection with an ongoing voter fraud investigation in the Rio Grande Valley.

Texas Rangers arrested Crystal Lee Ponce of Pharr on Thursday on suspicion of illegally voting in last year’s Edinburg mayoral election.

Three other voter fraud suspects — Veronica Vela Saenz, Maria Aleman, and Jose Antonio Vela — were arrested Wednesday, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Johnny Hernandez confirmed to Texas Scorecard.

Ponce, Vela Saenz, and Aleman allegedly voted in Edinburg in 2017 but did not live in the city. They face charges of illegal voting, a second-degree felony. Vela allegedly made a false statement on a voter registration application, a Class B misdemeanor.

Rangers launched a voter fraud investigation in Hidalgo County after receiving reports of suspected illegal voting in the City of Edinburg’s November 2017 municipal election.

One woman who admitted voting illegally said she wanted to come forward because of recent voter fraud arrests in neighboring Starr County. Seven people there have been charged with illegal voting or submitting fraudulent mail ballot applications.

The woman doesn’t live in Edinburg but voted in the city’s election last November. She says Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, a city councilman and mayoral candidate at the time, approached her last August about changing her voter registration to her sister’s address within the city so she could vote in the mayoral election.

Public voter registration records obtained from the Hidalgo County Elections Office also revealed 11 people registered to vote at a single address on Fay Street in Edinburg, which turned out to be a small one-bedroom home.

“I don’t know if voter fraud took place or not,” Molina responded. “I’m sure the investigation will reveal what happened, but I do know there’s a lot of finger pointing.”

Rangers are working with the Texas Attorney General’s office and the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s office to investigate the voter fraud allegations.

“Voter fraud is not acceptable in our elections,” District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr. said in a statement. “It is crucial to protect the integrity of our elections, and we will continue to vigorously pursue all avenues of investigation.”

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.