Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on Thursday that law enforcement officials had arrested four individuals for their alleged involvement in an illegal ballot harvesting scheme in the state’s 2018 Democrat primary election. One of the people who was arrested was the Democrat who won the primary race.
“The four individuals—Charlie Burns, Dewayne Ward, Marlena Jackson and Jackson’s husband Shannon Brown, a Democrat who was serving as Gregg County’s Precinct 4 commissioner—collectively stand accused of 134 different felony charges of election fraud and ballot tampering,” Newsweek reported. “If found guilty, each individual could face six months in jail to 99 years in prison.”
The charges filed against the individuals included engaging in organized election fraud, illegal voting, fraudulent use of an application for a mail-in ballot, unlawful possession of a mail-in ballot, tampering with a governmental record, and election fraud.
“It is an unfortunate reality that elections can be stolen outright by mail ballot fraud. Election fraud, particularly an organized mail ballot fraud scheme orchestrated by political operatives, is an affront to democracy and results in voter disenfranchisement and corruption at the highest level,” Attorney General Paxton said in a statement. “Mail ballots are vulnerable to diversion, coercion, and influence by organized vote harvesting schemes. This case demonstrates my commitment to ensuring Texas has the most secure elections in the country, and I thank the Gregg County Sheriff and District Attorney for their continued partnership. Those who try to manipulate the outcome of elections in Texas must be held accountable.”
The statement from the Texas Attorney General’s office said that a grand jury had returned indictments of 23 felony counts against Democrat Commissioner Brown, 97 felony counts against Jackson, eight felony counts against Burns, and six felony counts against Ward.
The statement said that in order to win, the group allegedly “targeted young, able-bodied voters to cast ballots by mail by fraudulently claiming the voters were ‘disabled,’ in most cases without the voters’ knowledge or consent.”
Election fraud, particularly an organized mail ballot fraud scheme orchestrated by political operatives, is an affront to democracy and results in voter disenfranchisement and corruption at the highest level.https://t.co/LXdYZurYgj
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) September 24, 2020
The news comes after federal law enforcement officials announced on Thursday that a handful of military ballots had been discarded in the swing state of Pennsylvania and that out of all the discarded ballots that were opened when they were discovered, all of them had voted for President Donald Trump.
“The FBI has recovered a number of documents relating to military ballots that had been improperly opened by your elections staff, and had the ballots removed and discarded, or removed and placed separately from the envelope containing confidential voter information and attestation,” U.S. Attorney David J. Freed said in a letter to Shelby Watchilla, Director of Elections of Luzerne County Bureau of Elections.
“Specifically, a total of nine (9) military ballots were discovered to have been discarded,” the letter continued. “Seven (7) of those ballots when discovered by investigators were outside of any envelope. Those ballots were all cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump. One (1) of those seven (7) ballots was able to be identified to an envelope that was recovered, and thereby potentially tied to a specific voter. Two (2) military ballots that had been discarded were previously recovered by elections staff, reinserted into what appeared to be their appropriate envelopes, and then resealed. Therefore, the votes cast on those two (2) ballots are unknown. Thus, is appears that three (3) of the nine (9) recovered ballots can be potentially attributed to specific voters. Six (6) of the ballots were simply removed and discarded, and cannot be attributed to a specific voter at this time.”
This story has been updated to include additional information.