State officials are launching an investigation into alleged voter fraud after receiving a citizen complaint about mail-ballot harvesting in Harris County.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office notified local resident Colleen Vera earlier this week that they are taking action on her election complaint, which was filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office in April.

Paxton’s probe comes as his office is fighting two lawsuits filed by the Texas Democrat Party using the coronavirus as an excuse to allow everyone to vote by mail.

Vera’s complaint documents that “people with prior forgery convictions picked up large batches of ballot by mail applications for local campaigns and a number of voted ballots were marked identically,” said SOS Director of Elections Keith Ingram when he referred the matter to OAG earlier this month.

A video first made public by watchdog group Direct Action Texas, showing what appeared to be illegal mail-ballot harvesting in Harris County’s 2018 Democrat primary, prompted Vera’s research.

The video shows a woman identifying herself as a campaign worker for State Rep. Harold Dutton (D–Houston) and telling an elderly voter how to fill out her ballot, adding “we’ve done over 400 already.”

“After seeing the video, you can’t help but say there’s a problem here,” Vera told Texas Scorecard.

Vera, a retired school teacher, spent two years reviewing thousands of public documents, including mail-ballot applications, carrier envelopes, and eventually the ballots themselves (state law made her wait 22 months to see those).

She shared her findings on her blog Texas Trash Talk, including images of identically marked ballots and applications seemingly filled out in the same handwriting, all from the same voting precinct in Dutton’s district.

Vera says she’s not finished with her research, but with Democrats’ vote-by-mail lawsuits pending, she wants the public to understand the risks of mail-ballot voting.

Texas Scorecard will have continuing coverage on this developing story.

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.