State authorities arrested a Texas woman accused of voter fraud after a grand jury indicted her on multiple felony charges related to mail ballots in a 2018 local election.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Friday his office’s Election Fraud Unit arrested and jailed alleged vote harvester Monica Mendez on June 23.

According to Paxton’s press release, a Victoria County grand jury indicted Mendez on 31 felony election fraud counts:

  • 7 counts of illegal voting (second-degree felony—2 to 20 years in prison, fine up to $10,000)
  • 8 counts of unlawfully assisting a voter voting by mail (third-degree felony—2 to 10 years in prison, fine up to $10,000)
  • 8 counts of unlawful possession of a ballot (state jail felony—180 days to 2 years in jail, fine up to $10,000)
  • 8 counts of election fraud (state jail felony)

The charges relate to eight mail-in ballots in a May 2018 water district board election in Bloomington, a town of around 2,000 residents near Victoria.

The Texas Secretary of State referred the case to the AG’s office for criminal investigation after receiving reports from residents of possible illegal voting activities ahead of the election, including about 275 new voters who registered using the same mailing address—a P.O. box associated with a local nonprofit housing provider ALMS.

Tenants said ALMS threatened to raise their rent if they didn’t vote for their landlord’s preferred water board candidates. ALMS wanted to oust the incumbents because they said the water district overcharged for services at their rental properties.

In 2016, Texas Rangers investigated similar allegations that ALMS coerced tenants to vote for certain candidates.

Authorities haven’t said which candidate or candidates may have benefitted from Mendez’ alleged ballot harvesting.

A total of 563 ballots were cast in Bloomington’s 2018 water district election. Each voter chose up to three of the six candidates, and the top three were elected.

Just 12 votes separated the third- and fourth-place finishers.

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.