Earlier this week, law enforcement officials in Texas arrested a non-citizen of the United States for tampering with the ballots of multiple residents as part of an unbelievable voting “assistance” scheme.
Apparently, while volunteering at a voting center back in November, 2016, she allegedly cast votes on the ballots of others without their consent for numerous candidates who she had purportedly been paid to support under the guise that she was actually just showing them how to use the voting machine.
Marcela Gutierrez, who isn’t a citizen of the US, was taken into custody and charged with one count of “illegal voting,” which is a second-degree felony with a penalty of two to twenty years in prison, with a potential fine of up to $10,000. She was also charged with ten counts of “unlawfully assisting a voter,” which is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one whole year in jail and a possible $4,000 fine.
According to the attorney general’s office, Gutierrez is accused of casting “votes on the voter’s ballot for a slate of candidates Gutierrez had been paid to support” after leading voters to believe she was simply “demonstrating the use of a voting machine.”
In addition to Gutierrez, local law enforcement officials also arrested two of her fellow campaign workers, Sylvia Arjona, who is the wife of Ben Arjona, a trustee on the board of the local school district, and Sara Ornelas, on seven misdemeanor counts of “unlawfully assisting a voter” for playing a role in the voting “assistance” scheme.
“These allegations are not true,” argued Castillo while speaking about the case. “She didn’t do what the allegations are and she intends to fight every step of the way to clear her name,” he insisted.
Their cases, along with Gutierrez’s, have since been referred to the Public Integrity Unit of the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office by AG Paxton’s office. As the cases proceed through court, his office will reportedly continue providing assistance and support to Ricardo Rodriguez, who is an attorney with the unit of the district office that is handling the case.
Shortly after the arrests of the three women, Paxton released a statement describing the significance of the cases.
“These cases highlight the unfortunate widespread abuse of elder and disabled voters in our state,” explained the state attorney general in his recently released statement.
“Texas law provides accommodations to assist those who cannot vote their own ballots, but those provisions are being abused to deprive vulnerable Texans of their voice in government,” he continued, adding, “anyone who attempts to exploit the voter assistance process to steal votes will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
“This is a long time coming to them,” stated Perez while speaking to reporters about the matter. “It’s time for people to understand that this is serious; these are our elections and people are voting for people who have a fiduciary duty to make real financial and budget decisions,” he added.
Gutierrez, Arjona, and Ornelas aren’t the only ones who were recently arrested by Paxton’s office for harming the integrity of local elections. Last month, for instance, five people were reportedly taken into custody following during as part of an “ongoing investigation into an organized illegal voting scheme in the 2017 city of Edinburg election.”
And a month before that, Crystal Mason, a 43-year-old convicted felon, was sentenced to five years behind bars for illegally voting back in the 2016 election. Apparently, Mason, who was out on supervised release after being found guilty of tax fraud, had unlawfully submitted a provisional ballot at an election center after learning that her name was not on their list of registered voters.
When pressed about her illicit conduct, Mason claimed she didn’t know what she did was illegal and would have never done so had she known. When that appeared to fail, she, quite shockingly, attempted to blame her mother for pressuring her to vote.
What’s worse, Gutierrez isn’t even the only non-citizen in Texas to be arrested in the past few weeks by local law enforcement officials on charges of unlawful voting. Laura Janeth Garza, a 37-year-old Mexican national living in the United States illegally, was also recently taken into custody by authorities and charged with “voter impersonation and ineligible voting,” which are both second-degree felonies, for illegally voting in several past elections.
According to reports, Garza was placed under arrest and later charged shortly after investigators determined that she had allegedly obtained “documents to steal the identity of a U.S. citizen” and then used that unlawfully acquired identity to fraudulently vote in 2004, 2012, and 2016 elections. If she is ultimately convicted, she faces a maximum of 20 years and a possible $10,000 fine.
“This case demonstrates my office’s commitment to protecting the integrity of elections,” asserted Paxton in a statement about the matter that was released after the charges were filed formally filed against Garza. “We will continue to do everything in our power to safeguard the electoral process in Texas,” he added.
Without a doubt, illegally voting in an election must not be tolerated. Because of this, anyone who is caught undermining the integrity of an election must be punished as harshly as possible to deter others from doing something similar in the future. Hopefully, this is exactly what will happen to Gutierrez and her two accomplices.