A coastal Texas woman has admitted she ran a mail-ballot vote harvesting operation in a 2018 local election, but she won’t serve any time for her crimes.
- three counts of illegal voting,
- eight counts of election fraud,
- seven counts of assisting a voter to submit a ballot by mail, and
- eight counts of unlawful possession of a mail ballot
A judge sentenced Mendez to five years’ deferred adjudication probation.
If Mendez complies with the court’s probation terms, the charges will be dismissed as if she had committed no illegal vote harvesting.
Her crimes are related to eight mail-in ballots in a May 2018 water district board election in Bloomington, a small town of around 2,000 residents in Victoria County.
A total of 563 ballots were cast in the election. Each voter chose three candidates, and the top three were elected.
Just 12 votes separated the third- and fourth-place finishers.
Mendez ran the vote-harvesting operation on behalf of a subsidized housing corporation, ALMS, which wanted to oust incumbents and take control of the board in order to cut water rates for its rental properties.
The Texas Secretary of State referred the case to the AG’s office for criminal investigation after ALMS tenants reported possible illegal voting activities, including about 275 new voters who registered using the same mailing address—a P.O. box associated with ALMS.
Tenants said their landlord threatened to raise their rent if they didn’t vote for ALMS’ preferred candidates.
It’s unknown if anyone else involved in the voter fraud scheme is under investigation. Texas Rangers investigated ALMS in the past.
Paxton said his election integrity team investigated and prosecuted the case in cooperation with the Victoria County district attorney’s office.