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.