Officials take aim on voter fraud - Local News - The Brownsville Herald

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Officials take aim on voter fraud

Citizens also work to raise awareness

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Cameron County’s District Attorney and Elections Administrator say they’ve allied with a grassroots organization to protect election integrity.

The organization, Citizens Against Voter Abuse, also known as CAVA, formed in late 2010 with a mission to raise awareness and prevent voter fraud in Cameron County.

Both DA Luis V. Saenz and Elections Administrator Chris Davis said CAVA’s goals are in line with their own.

“Everybody has different roles,” Saenz said. “But at the end of the day the goal is to have a fair and impartial election where people turn out to vote and their vote counts and they cast honest votes.”

Davis said while his goal is conducting fair and impartial elections, like CAVA and Saenz, he wants to get the message out

that voter fraud will not be tolerated.

“I encourage folks during the voting period who see something wrong to report it,” Davis said, flanked by Saenz. “Not

just verbally, but by documenting it and standing behind it.”

CAVA founder Mary Helen Flores said she and members of her organization will be poll watching during the upcoming

primary elections and urged anyone else interested in poll watching to get educated about the process by visiting the Secretary of State’s website.

“I encourage everyone to get informed and participate in the process because it’s ours,” she said.

Davis said CAVA’s efforts have directly resulted in the investigation and successful prosecution of people involved with voter fraud.

“Having the support of the DA’s Office complements the organization’s efforts,” he said.

The latest voter fraud case involved a former Brownsville resident named Sonia Leticia-Solis, who pleaded guilty last November to voting more than once in the 2012 primary runoff election.

During that election, both Republicans and Democrats held primaries for the newly created U.S. House of Representatives District 34 seat. Rep. Filemon Vela beat out Denise Saenz Blanchard in the Democrat primary. On the Republican side, Jessica Puente Bradshaw beat out Adela Garza to win the primary in the District 34 race.

Solis was scheduled for sentencing last week, but that was postponed because her public defender had H1N1 influenza and did not return to work with enough time to prepare for sentencing.

Solis also objected to the sealed pre-sentence report.

“Defendant objects to the allegations of unidentified members of the community that have alleged voter fraud,” the motion objecting to the pre-sentence investigation report states. “Brownsville politics for at least the last generation has had a dismal history of accusations of wrong doing as to candidates and office holders, paragraphs 6, 9, and 10 are filled with exactly this kind of slander.”

Davis said, not referencing Solis, that voting more than once is one of the most common forms of voting fraud, along with mail-in voting fraud and assistance voting fraud.

Solis pleaded guilty to obtaining multiple mail-in ballots by forging applications on behalf of people she represented to be disabled.

Solis faces up to five years in federal prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com