Texas authorities announced Thursday they have arrested and charged a mayoral candidate in the Dallas area with election fraud, accusing him of running a scam to request absentee ballots in other voters’ names.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the mayoral candidate forged at least 84 applications for mail-in ballots, and when he was arrested he was in the process of stuffing envelopes to request even more.
Authorities caught onto the scheme when dozens of ballot requests were all tied back to the same post office box, which was supposedly tied to a nursing home.
But when the Denton County Sheriff’s Office investigated, it found the box had been rented using a fake driver’s license and university student ID, and people whose ballots were being sent to the box said they never made the requests.
The sheriff’s department stuck an undercover officer at the post office to watch the box, and said they struck pay dirt Wednesday when someone came to collect the ballots. They followed the person, then obtained a warrant and found the ballots and the fake IDs.
They arrested Zul Mirza Mohamed, a candidate for mayor in Carrollton, Texas, a city of about 140,000 people, north of Dallas.
He now faces 109 counts of fraud, including 25 counts of unlawful possession of a ballot and 84 counts of fraudulent use of a mail ballot application.
“Mail ballots are inherently insecure and vulnerable to fraud,” Mr. Paxton said.
His office assisted the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.
Mr. Mohamed is challenging Kevin Falconer, the incumbent mayor.
The election was supposed to have taken place in the spring but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The arrest is the second in two weeks involving mail ballot fraud in Texas.
Authorities late last month announced charges against a county commissioner accused of running a scam to harvest absentee ballots in the Democratic primary in 2018.
The absentee ballots appear to have accounted for Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown’s win over Kasha Williams, 1,047 votes to 1,042 votes. Mr. Brown won 73.4% of absentee ballots cast, the Longview News-Journal reported.
The two incidents come amid a national debate over voter fraud.
President Trump has said expanding vote-by-mail options, in which ballots are sent to voters, opens the door to fraud. Democrats say there’s no evidence of widespread fraud.
Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree, who led the investigation that produced Thursday’s charges, disagreed.
“Voter fraud is a serious and widespread issue and cannot be tolerated,” he said.
He called the case “appalling.”
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