Yes, voter fraud exists. It just usually doesn’t look like what many of us imagine it to be.
Our minds always drift off to visions that have a Hollywood-tinged aspect to them. Hacked machines switching our choices. Arcane, Rube Goldberg-like plans that Hans Gruber would be proud of. Foreign interference.
More likely, however, it takes the form of what a Texas woman allegedly did.
According to KXXV-TV, Rachel (or Raquel) Rodriguez of San Antonio was arrested Wednesday on charges of election fraud, illegal voting, unlawfully assisting people voting by mail, and unlawfully possessing an official ballot.
If convicted, she faces 20 years in prisonhttps://t.co/RcWleVZiu7
— KXAN News (@KXAN_News) January 13, 2021
Rodriguez was featured in a Project Veritas exposé last fall in which she identified herself as a “ballot chaser.” What that means, in practice, is a ballot harvester who is targeting specific votes. Ballot harvesters are third-party individuals or organizations that collect absentee or mail-in votes to be sent in; critics of the process say it can lead to targeted collection or fraud.
Project Veritas’ undercover journalist set up the meeting with Rodriguez under the auspices of setting up his own campaign.
“Let’s say $6 per vote, right? And I’m going to bring in 5,000 votes,” she told the journalist in one of the videos.
One of her main clients at the time, Rodriguez said, was GOP House hopeful Mauro Garza, who ended up losing to Democrat Rep. Joaquin Castro in November.
“Mauro, right now, he said: ‘OK, Raquel, if you were running, what would you do?’ So, he sat me down and I said: ‘I would do this, this, this, this, and this.’ He said: ‘How much money do you think you would need?’ And I budgeted everything, right? OK, so you do it,’” she said.
“He was paying me $5,000 a month, but now he’s paying me $8,000 a month. Why? Because I took on his extra jobs.”
Garza denied any wrongdoing, telling The Texan that Rodriguez was a former campaign volunteer and saying he would “welcome any investigation and accountability to expose these outlandish allegations.”
There were a long list of other clients Rodriguez listed, too — from judges to state legislators.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced her arrest Wednesday in a news release in which he said Rodriguez was facing charges of “election fraud, illegal voting, unlawfully assisting people voting by mail, and unlawfully possessing an official ballot. Each charge constitutes a felony under the Texas Election Code.”
“Rodriguez was exposed in a Project Veritas video last fall while she engaged in vote harvesting leading up to the 2020 election,” the news release said. “The Election Fraud Division of the Office of the Attorney General reviewed dozens of hours of unedited, raw footage, which led to this arrest. In an uncharacteristic moment of honesty, Rodriguez acknowledged on video that what she was doing is illegal and that she could go to jail for it. If convicted, Rodriguez could face up to 20 years in prison.”
“Many continue to claim that there’s no such thing as election fraud. We’ve always known that such a claim is false and misleading, and today we have additional hard evidence,” Paxton said in a statement.
“This is a victory for election integrity and a strong signal that anyone who attempts to defraud the people of Texas, deprive them of their vote, or undermine the integrity of elections will be brought to justice,” he added.
“The shocking and blatantly illegal action documented by Project Veritas demonstrates a form of election fraud my office continually investigates and prosecutes. I am fiercely committed to ensuring the voting process is secure and fair throughout the state, and my office is prepared to assist any Texas county in combating this insidious, un-American form of fraud.”
In a tweet, Project Veritas touted the role its investigation played.
?MASSIVE DEVELOPMENT? https://t.co/DK6YCpZ0Xz
— Project Veritas (@Project_Veritas) January 13, 2021
Rodriguez’s attorney told KABB-TV that the investigation should have been more thorough and questioned the manner of the arrest.
“Well, she was arrested by state agents, and she’s being processed in Kendall County, which, from our perspective is interesting because none of the allegations are said to have occurred in Kendall County,” Nico LaHood said.
“We’re going to analyze this completely, we’re not going to leave any rock unturned,” he added. “Rachel and all people accused, all citizens accused of criminal allegation by the government, deserve an aggressive defense in a fair process, our job is to ensure that Rachel gets both of those and we plan to do that.”
In the video, Rodriguez comes across as having a lack of circumspection for someone who’s a practiced vote fraudster, something that makes one wonder if she’s a fraudster of a different sort. That’s what court is for.
What we know is the attorney general believes he has a case.
If this all sounds farfetched, consider the only election overturned in recent years because of voter fraud involved ballot harvesting.
In the 2018 race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, Republican Mark Harris beat Democrat Dan McCready by a 905-vote margin. However, suspicions were aroused when Harris seemed to get an inordinate percentage of the absentee vote, given that only 19 percent of it was from registered Republicans but 61 percent voted for Harris.
What emerged was what The New York Times called a “precise but amateurish operation” harvesting ballots that was run by local political operative L. McCrae Dowless Jr.
“Witnesses have described a scheme that was at once on the books and under the radar, and a network filled not with seasoned, ideological activists, but with acquaintances and relatives of Mr. Dowless who needed cash and asked few questions,” The Times’ Alan Blinder wrote in February 2019.
“Guided by the slight, bearded man once celebrated as a local ‘guru of elections,’ they swept up unsealed or incomplete ballots and returned them in batches to Mr. Dowless, who was working on behalf of the Harris campaign. They sometimes filled in ballots, or signed as witnesses for voters they never met, in an ink color specifically chosen so it would not arouse suspicion at local elections offices.”
State officials refused to certify Harris’ win and he backed out of a redo, which was won by GOP Rep. Dan Bishop.
Dowless is awaiting trial on numerous charges, according to WECT-TV, although Harris was never charged.
This might not be the kind of voter fraud you’re thinking of. It’s not the kind of systematic fraud that could change a national election.
It’s funny, though, how few Democrats were seen loudly declaiming voter fraud didn’t exist when Mark Harris’ victory wasn’t certified.
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