Following a nine-day trial, a district court judge has voided the results of the City of Mission mayoral election after finding the winning campaign engaged in a conspiracy to bribe voters and harvest mail-in ballots.

Norberto “Beto” Salinas, the former mayor of Mission of 20 years, filed a lawsuit against current mayor Armando “Doc” O’Caña after several witnesses claimed bribery, mail-in ballot harvesting, and illegal voting during the June 9 runoff election. On Friday, 93rd District Court visiting Judge J. Bonner Dorsey agreed with Salinas and voided the results of the election. “I cannot ascertain the true outcome of the election,” Dorsey said.

Salinas’ camp had to prove 157 votes were illegally cast, the number the candidate lost by in the election. Dorsey ruled, “I hold or find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the number of illegal votes was in excess of 158.”

During the trial, election analyst and attorney George Korbel testified he believed at least 48 voters were bribed and 303 mail-ballots showed characteristics they were illegally harvested. “Once something like this affects an election, you don’t know what the results are,” said Korbel.

Throughout the trial, witnesses testified they were paid $10 to $40 to vote, were transported in a white Mercedes-Benz van, were promised “bags of clothes” in exchange for their vote, and had their mail-in ballots harvested.

O’Caña says he will now appeal the decision.

Miriam Cepeda

Miriam Cepeda is the Rio Grande Valley Bureau Chief for Texas Scorecard. A second-generation Mexican American, she is both fluent in English and Spanish and has been influential in grassroots organizing and conservative engagement within Hispanic communities. If you don’t find her “Trumping”, you can find her saving animals, running her dog, hiking the Andes, or volunteering with the U.S. National Park Service.