Tag Archives: RGV

South Texas postal worker sentenced to prison in federal voter fraud case

For a candidate or campaign worker looking to steal votes by illegally harvesting mail ballots, it pays to have someone on the inside – say, in the elections office or the post office. It also pays to be that someone on the inside.

 

In the south Texas county of Hidalgo, that someone was U.S. Postal Service employee Noe Abdon Olvera. He was paid well for selling mail ballot information to campaign workers – until he got caught.

 

Olvera and another postal worker were charged with selling lists of voters who received mail-in ballots to candidates running in the November 2014 election.

Olvera, who was arrested at the Postal Service facility in McAllen where he worked in October 2014, was subsequently charged with four counts of bribery of public officials in connection with an investigation into allegations that the mailman took $1,200 in bribes from campaign workers on two separate occasions in exchange for lists of postal customer names and addresses.

In March, Olvera pleaded guilty to one count of bribery of public officials. In exchange, the government dismissed the remaining three counts he was facing, court records show.

Olvera was busted with help from Yolanda Hidrogo, a politiquera who secretly recorded conversations with the postal worker and recounted in an affidavit her activities as a paid vote harvester.

 

The ballot harvesting schemes Hidrogo describes in the affidavit are common throughout Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere in the state.

 

Olvera was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Another South Texas election overturned due to voter fraud

Another close election in South Texas’ Rio Grande valley is overturned due to voter fraud:

On Monday evening, a judge ordered a new election to be held for Hidalgo City Council Place 5 following a mail-in ballot lawsuit filed by candidate Gilberto Perez.

 

The lawsuit claimed illegal assistance with mail-in ballots in the June 2016 runoff election. The lawsuit also claimed that non-residents and ineligible people cast ballots in the Place 5 race.

 

The seat is currently held by councilman Oziel Treviño. Perez lost the seat by just six votes in the runoff election.

Most of the approximately 30 witnesses testified that they received voting assistance they didn’t require from campaign workers who insisted they vote for the slate sponsored by city councilman Rudy Franz, Citizens Alliance for a Better Hidalgo, which included Treviño. One voter testified she was paid by a campaign worker to register others at her home who didn’t live in the city of Hidalgo.

Voter fraud remains a perennial problem in South Texas

Don’t try telling residents of South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley that voter fraud is “non-existent” or doesn’t change election outcomes. They know better.

 

Despite members of the institutional Left like the Brennan Center denying voter fraud is a problem, dismissing it as “irrational” or justifying it as not “widespread” enough to change election results, it’s an all-too-regular feature of elections in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

 

Illegal voting, ballot harvesting, voter assistance that crosses into coercion and intimidation, and outright vote buying are especially prevalent in small towns where small numbers of fraudulent votes can sway results and where local governments and school districts are some of the biggest employers.

Politics has long been a blood sport in the Valley, where political slates often split among prominent families whose animosity goes back generations, and among contractors, material suppliers and law firms who compete for area jobs.

South Texas officials like former Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra know better too. How often did his office receive complaints about voter fraud or coercion?

“Every election for 35 years,” Guerra said. “For the last 10 or 12 years, the one (complaint) we saw the most was the politiqueras that were voting for people taken to the polls. … People would pay $5 to $10 (for votes). Every election. But how do you prove it?”

Illegal voter assistance is common with mail ballots, and has also become more so at the polls, with elderly voters at adult day care centers as frequent targets. “’To me, 99 percent of (assisted votes) are being cast by the person who drove them,’ Guerra said. “

 

Prosecutions are becoming more common in the RGV too. At least a dozen people have been prosecuted in Hidalgo and neighboring Cameron County on federal and state voter fraud charges including illegal assistance and vote buying in the 2012 Democratic primary, “which, in such a strongly Democratic area, is the election that matters.”  But as Guerra noted, these cases are difficult to make and often involve only misdemeanor charges.

 

Just last year, former Weslaco City Commissioner Lupe Rivera was charged with 16 misdemeanor counts of voter fraud in the November 2013 election after his opponent Letty Lopez successfully contested the race, which was decided by just 16 votes. Fraudulent votes, as the trial revealed – fraudulent votes that changed the outcome of the election, something voter fraud deniers claim never happens.

 

What truly doesn’t happen are the penalties that deniers claim deter voter fraud.

Nearly all of the charges against his son and a campaign worker were dismissed when Rivera pleaded to a single count in exchange for a year of probation… His son, Lupe Rivera Jr., is running to claim his father’s former seat in the November election.

A year of probation for stealing an election.  Meanwhile, the problem isn’t confined to South Texas. Right now a massive voter fraud investigation of illegal ballot harvesting is underway in Tarrant County, Texas that’s said to involve as many as 20,000 ballots.

South Texas city commissioner ousted over voter fraud pleads guilty, avoids jail

More not-nonexistent voter fraud that changed the outcome of an election in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley:

A former Weslaco city commissioner has admitted to cheating to get re-elected in 2013. Lupe Rivera Monday pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawfully assisting a voter — one of 16 counts he was charged with in a mail-in ballot fraud scheme.

Rivera’s challenger contested the election, which was decided by just 16 votes, alleging voter fraud. The judge found that 30 ballots were illegally cast and ordered a new election (after a protracted appeal, the redo election was held in November 2015; Rivera lost), and Texas’ Attorney General filed 16 charges against Rivera – including the unlawful assistance charge for filling out a mail ballot “in a way other than the way the voter directed or without direction from the voter.”

 

As punishment for intentionally defrauding the voters of Weslaco, stealing enough votes to steal an election, and tying up the courts for over a year, Rivera’s plea deal sentences him to just a year of probation and a $500 fine.

Texas Democratic Party boss takes a hit in voter fraud case: client facing 16 criminal charges

Via Watchdog.org:

 

A client of Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa is facing 16 criminal charges of rigging votes in a Rio Grande Valley election.

 

Lupe Rivera Sr. illegally handled ballots and envelopes in his closely contested Weslaco City Commission race, according to the state attorney general’s office. Rivera won the 2013 election by 16 votes, but a court ruled that 30 ballots were illegally cast.

 

The charges are an added blow to Hinojosa on top of his failed defense of Rivera’s contested election, and voters are none too happy with the top Democrat’s defense of fraud:

 

At trial, Hinojosa argued that vote-gathering by so-called “politiqueras” were business as usual in the Rio Grande Valley.  “What difference does it make where anybody sleeps? These are families in South Texas,” the former Cameron County judge and local party boss told the courts.

 

Mary Helen Flores, president of the nonpartisan Citizens Against Voter Abuse, blasted Hinojosa.  “The fact that he continually defends people involved in vote manipulation should say a whole lot,” Flores said.

 

Multiple voter fraud charges filed in contested Texas election

Yes, voter fraud exists and yes, it changes the outcome of elections.  The Monitor:

 

The Texas Attorney General’s office has filed 16 charges against Lupe Rivera Sr., alleging that the Weslaco city commissioner violated the state’s Election Code during the 2013 race for his District 5 seat… The charges are in response to a criminal complaint Letty Lopez filed with the Secretary of State’s office earlier this year.

 

Lopez had fallen short by 16 votes to Rivera Sr. in the November 2013 election in question. Claiming voter fraud, Lopez contested the results of the election in a highly-publicized legal dispute that lasted for more than a year and a half.

 

Despite State District Judge Menton Murray Jr. calling for a new election in June 2014, this after finding that 30 ballots were illegally cast in the race, the process was hung up for nearly a year by Rivera Sr.’s appeal. The longer the case was delayed, the more scrutiny befell Rivera Sr. and his attorney, State Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa, for appealing Murray’s decision.

 

Two years later, with the fraud-tainted 2013 results thrown out, a new election has finally been scheduled. But it’s not all bad news for Rivera: “the charges Rivera Sr. faces are not likely to affect his candidacy for the Nov. 3 election.”

 

Successful South Texas election contest a “critical victory” for fighting voter fraud, “huge positive for voting rights”

A South Texas election marred by voter fraud is finally set for a do-over.  The November 2013 Weslaco City Commission race between incumbent Commissioner Lupe Rivera and challenger Letty Lopez was decided by just 16 votes. Lopez’ attorney Jerad Najvar proved in court that 30 votes were illegally cast.

 

Alleging voter fraud, Lopez successfully contested the November 2013 election after a year-and-a-half-long legal dispute that, in recent months, became entangled in appellate court… 

 

“I’m excited that Weslaco voters will finally be able to vote fairly in this race,” Lopez said… “That’s what this case has been all about.”

 

Najvar sees another big win:  “This case turned a negative into a huge positive for voting rights in South Texas. It sets a legal precedent that voting residency requirements and the mail-in ballot rules that protect elderly voters from coercion will be enforced. This is a critical victory that helps fight election fraud across the Rio Grande Valley.”

 

 

Business as usual: Texas Democratic Party boss stalls election voided due to voter fraud

“Stolen elections are the gateway to stealing all the rest of it.”

 

Via Texas Watchdog.org After beating state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa in court, an election law attorney says South Texas’ tide of corruption is turning. But slowly. Dealing a double defeat to Hinojosa, a district court and appellate court voided the election of Weslaco City Commissioner Lupe Rivera. The courts found that Rivera was aided by a string of forgeries, false addresses and “flexible residencies.”

 

Hinojosa, who represented Rivera, argued the shady activities were business as usual in the Rio Grande Valley…

 

Jerad Najvar, who represented Rivera challenger Letty Lopez, said, “The kind of violations we proved in this case — false registrations and manipulation of mail-in ballots — are commonplace in South Texas elections. The majority of folks are sick of it.”

 

Najvar said his client’s court victories proved that election fraud exists, and can be beaten back… “we got an opinion from the Corpus Christi court of appeals reaffirming that the voting residency definition is a meaningful standard, and enforcing the ballot by mail chain of custody provisions. That’s a precedential opinion…”

 

As Hinojosa considers appealing to the State Supreme Court, further delaying the ordered new election and keeping his client Rivera in office, the state Attorney General’s Office is considering a criminal investigation.

 

Mary Helen Flores, president of the non-partisan group Citizens Against Voter Abuse that helped expose illegal vote harvesting in the Rio Grande Valley by politiqueras – over a dozen have already been prosecuted for federal crimes – says:

 

“Each and every individual who participates in the degradation of our electoral process should face mandatory jail time. Gilberto Hinojosa is openly condoning this activity. Through his words and actions, he is telling the people who’ll listen to him that cheating is OK.  Cameron County is paying dearly for this philosophy. We are the poorest, and among the least educated populations in the country, due in large part to chronic public corruption. Stolen elections are the gateway to stealing all the rest of it.”

Texas election overturned due to voter fraud faces continuing delays to re-do

The 13th Court of Appeals last week denied [Weslaco] City Commissioner Lupe Rivera’s request for judges to reconsider their decision to call a new election… 

 

Citing allegations of voter fraud, [Letty] Lopez challenged the November 2013 election after falling short to Rivera by 16 votes. Murray agreed and found that 30 votes were illegally cast in the race.

 

Lopez believes Rivera will continue delaying the inevitable election re-do with a final appeal to the Texas Supreme Court:

 

“I believe that, yes, they will make it a delay tactic,” Lopez said. “I just think it’s unfortunate with our voting, democratic process that we have the state Democratic chair, which is Gilberto Hinojosa, Lupe Rivera’s legal representation, doing these delay tactics when in my personal opinion he’s deterring the voters’ rights. How can you, in that capacity, do something like this that is against the democratic process of voting?”

Politiqueras Paid to Harvest Votes in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley

Oh, yes. I know it can be done because I’ve done it.”

 

In recent years, losing candidates in local elections began to challenge vote harvesting by politiqueras in the Rio Grande Valley, and they shared their investigations with authorities. After the 2012 election cycle, the Justice Department and the Texas attorney general’s office filed charges.

 

“Yes, there is a concern in which the politiqueras are being paid to then go and essentially round up voters and have them vote a certain way,” says James Sturgis, assistant U.S. attorney in McAllen.

 

In the town of Donna, five politiqueras pleaded guilty to election fraud. Voters were bribed with cigarettes, beer or dime bags of cocaine. In neighboring Cameron County, nine politiqueras were charged with manipulating mail-in ballots.