A Texas state representative has called on Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton for an “immediate and formal investigation” into claims of voter fraud, corruption, and paid ballot harvesting in Kaufman County.
Rep. Lance Gooden’s letter comes in the wake of a lawsuit by Tracy Booker Gray, who lost her GOP primary bid for County Court at Law No. 1 by a single vote. In the suit, Gray alleges that a woman in Kaufman County — who is well known for ballot harvesting — collected enough votes illegally to sway the election.
Ballot harvesting is a tactic used by some campaigns to send people door-to-door and neighborhood-by-neighborhood to collect mail-in ballots from unwitting voters. This can happen more often in nursing homes, and in neighborhoods where there are many older residents.
“She is influential among vulnerable and uneducated folks who have no idea how voting works,” Gooden, R-Terrell told The Texas Monitor.
He said he believes she is “good for 40 to 50 votes” in any particular election.
“In local elections, particularly in school and city races, she can really have an impact,” Gooden said.
“Now, going on knocking on doors and hauling someone to the polls is not illegal,” Gooden said. “But what I understand that she has done, and how she may have gotten herself into trouble this time, is that she has filled out ballots for folks, and mailed them all on the same day. What it looks like, because she mailed them all on the same day, toward the end of early voting, [is that] someone got to her later than usual, so she was unable to stagger them out when she mailed all these ballots back, so it looked especially suspicious.”
Gooden said he hoped Abbott or Paxton could do something quickly.
“I know that neither of those gentlemen want this,” he said. “She works early voting and works on Election Day at the polls. She’s a paid election worker. The first thing that should be done is that she should have no business being near a voting booth, much less being paid to monitor one.”
Gooden did acknowledge the difficulty in policing mail-in ballot fraud.
“You don’t want to limit a senior-citizen’s right to vote by mail, but at the same time it seems very extreme that one individual could go and collect ballots for all these folks and put them all in the mailbox on the same day,” he said.
Gooden also noted the difference between mail-in ballot fraud and the more commonly discussed voter ID fraud.
“In the legislature we talk about voter ID fraud, those circumstances, I believe are very few and far between,” he said. “Very rare. But fraud is so rampant in this ballot by mail process.”
In the race that pitted Gray against Dennis Jones, the vote tally was 5,473 to 5,472, with Jones squeaking out the win.
Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.