Another probe of voter fraud in the Rio Grande Valley is underway, this time in Hidalgo County.
Texas Rangers are investigating allegations of illegal voting in the city of Edinburg in the November 2017 election, local ABC affiliate KRGV reports.
One woman admits she voted illegally in the election; officials are looking into 11 other people who all voted from the address of a single, one-bedroom house.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, doesn’t live in Edinburg but voted in the city’s election in November 2017. 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.
She made the change on September 19 and says she didn’t realize she was doing anything wrong. “I changed it because I had an in-law relative who was running for a local election, for the Edinburg mayor,” she told KRGV.
“I didn’t think that would be feasible for me to do and Molina said it didn’t matter,” she said. “So, I went in and I changed the address, very easily; no one gave me any resistance. They didn’t even ask me for my ID and it was changed.”
She said she wanted to come forward because of the recent voter fraud arrests in neighboring Starr County. Seven people there have been charged with illegal voting or submitting fraudulent mail ballot applications.
“I’m sure there are plenty of others and it didn’t feel good at all,” she said of being coerced into breaking the law.
Under Texas Election Code, it’s a Class B misdemeanor punishable by 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine to knowingly make a false statement on a voter registration application, or to induce another person to do so.
The woman says she’s changed her registration back to her real address and plans to contact authorities to clear herself.
KRGV located the woman by looking through public voter registration records obtained from the Hidalgo County Elections Office.
Those records 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.
KRGV tracked down the homeowner, who confirmed that none of the people registered to the home’s address actually lived there. Some of those registered to vote there don’t even live in Edinburg, KRGV found. But all 11 voted in Edinburg in November 2017.
Voter registration records show five people submitted forms claiming to live at the Fay Street home just prior to the city election.
One was a campaign worker who changed her registration to the Fay Street address on September 26, 2017. KRGV reports, “Her name and the Fay Street address also appeared on Mayor Richard Molina’s campaign finance report. According to records, Molina paid her nearly $4,000 for working on his campaign.”
Another person’s registration form that claimed the Fay Street home’s address had then-candidate Molina’s deputy voter registrar number and signature on the form.
Molina won his three-way race for mayor with 54 percent of the vote and a margin of more than 1,200 votes over the second-place finisher, incumbent Richard Garcia.
A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman confirmed to Texas Scorecard that the voter fraud investigation is ongoing, but said no additional details are being released at this time. Texas Rangers are a division of DPS with lead criminal investigative responsibility for public corruption and public integrity investigations.