South Texas authorities arrested a third suspect in their ongoing investigation of mail ballot voter fraud in the Rio Grande Valley.
Belinda Garcia turned herself in to the Starr County Special Crimes Unit on Tuesday. She is accused of unlawfully filling out mail ballot applications for voters who aren’t eligible to vote by mail. When interviewed by investigators, the voters confirmed they are not disabled and did not mark “disability” on the ballot applications.
Garcia was charged with one count each of election fraud, a misdemeanor, and fraudulent use of a ballot-by-mail application, a felony. A new law enacted last year to crack down on mail ballot voter fraud made it a state jail felony to provide false information on a ballot application or submit an application without a voter’s permission.
District Attorney Omar Escobar anticipates more charges could be added.
“We’ve tried to educate people and warn people,” Escobar said. “But apparently, some people just refuse to follow these new laws.”
Starr County’s ongoing investigation of voter fraud in the March primary elections has already netted two other suspects: Ernestina Barron, a paid vote harvester, or politiquera, charged with forging multiple mail ballot applications; and Erika Lozano-Pelayo, charged with submitting a mail ballot application for a deceased voter. Like Garcia, both are facing felony punishments of up to two years in state jail.
“Voters should take great care in handing over any kind of election materials to politiqueras,” Escobar warned, “including ballots that are currently going out to voters via mail.”
The DA’s voter fraud investigation also revealed that non-citizens are on the county’s voter rolls.
Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office offered to help Escobar in Starr County’s fight against voter fraud.
“We stand ready to assist you in whatever way we are able in your efforts to eliminate fraudulent voting and vote harvesting activity,” Deputy First Assistant AG Brantley Starr wrote to Escobar. “I believe a key solution rests in local elected prosecutors like yourself committing to address fraud in their communities.”

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.