Texas authorities have charged another noncitizen with voter fraud.

Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Monday an investigation by his Election Fraud Unit resulted in the arrest of a Navarro County woman who voted illegally in November 2016. Marites Canete Curry, a noncitizen living in Corsicana, was indicted on one count of illegal voting, a second-degree felony that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

“This latest election fraud arrest demonstrates my office’s commitment to ensuring that Texas has the most secure elections in the country,” Paxton said in a statement. “Illegal voting undermines one of the most fundamental principles of our nation: one person, one vote. Violators of our election laws will be caught and prosecuted.”

Paxton’s office has successfully prosecuted other noncitizen violators as well. Mexican national Rosa Ortega was found guilty of voter fraud in 2017 by a Tarrant County jury after she illegally voted in five elections from 2004 to 2014. Laura Janeth Garza, also a Mexican national, pleaded guilty last year after illegally voting in Harris County in 2004, 2012, and 2016.

A report released by the AG’s office last February revealed noncitizens registering and voting in Texas elections is a “significant problem” in a number of counties, but the full extent is unknown. Last August, a coalition of conservative leaders led by Direct Action Texas issued a statement that said hundreds of thousands of noncitizens are illegally registered to vote in Texas and demanded action from Gov. Greg Abbott to verify the citizenship of all voter registrations.

Navarro County election records showed Curry illegally registered to vote in June 2016, according to the AG’s statement. Illegal applicants are routinely accepted onto the voter rolls because no one verifies the citizenship of Texas voters; voter registration is currently on an honor system. Applicants simply check a box indicating they are a U.S. citizen.

State Rep. Mike Lang (R–Granbury) has filed legislation to fix this problem. House Bill 378 would require county voter registrars, with help from state officials, to verify applicants’ citizenship before adding them to the voter rolls.

Election integrity requires more than prosecuting election law violators after the fact; it requires preventing voter fraud before it happens. Prevention starts with keeping noncitizens and other ineligible people off of Texas voter rolls. Texans expect secure elections and should demand legislative action.

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.