The attorney general of Texas has announced charges against four people accused of election fraud and ballot tampering in the 2018 election, including a county commissioner who won as a result of the tampering.
On Thursday, AG Ken Paxton arrested Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown, Marlena Jackson, Charlie Burns, and DeWayne Ward for swinging the race in Brown's favor through a ballot harvesting scheme.
"To increase the pool of ballots needed to swing the race in Brown's favor, the group 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," Paxton said in a statement. "Under Texas election law, mail ballots based on disability are specifically reserved for those who are physically ill and cannot vote in-person as a result."
Paxton filed 134 felony charges against the four individuals, with penalties ranging from six months to 99 years of jail time.
Brown reportedly won the 2018 primary by just five votes. Nearly 800 ballots were cast by mail, and of those ballots, more than one third were listed with disabilities. Since other nearby counties only had 2.5% of mail-in voters claim disability, the large percentage drew suspicions of fraud.
An investigation was launched two months after the election, but it took more than two years to conclude the probe with enough evidence for an indictment.
"It is an unfortunate reality that elections can be stolen outright by mail ballot fraud," Paxton said. "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."