Another Texas Dope-the-Vote Ring Member Admits Voter Fraud - FACTOIDS
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Another Texas Dope-the-Vote Ring Member Admits Voter Fraud

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) probe into alleged vote-buying activity in south Texas netted another guilty plea from Donna resident Diana Balderas Castañeda. Castañeda, provincially known as a “politiquera,” admitted to offering small cash amounts to voters casting ballots for pre-approved candidates. Some voters would be escorted to drug dealers after voting.

According to federal court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas, Castañeda operated during the 2012 Primary and General Elections on behalf of an unnamed candidate. A recent FBI release later explained that she was reportedly working for four Donna ISD school board candidates. Though a local election, federal law enforcement may pursue an investigation if federal candidates are also on the ballot, according to the FBI.

The criminal complaint pointed to three witnesses that admitted to accepting $10 to $20 each for voting a certain way. One witness explained that Castañeda would issue a card with “names of the candidates she wanted [the voter] to vote for circled, and the opposing candidates’ names crossed out.”

In March 2013, Castañeda voluntarily appeared for an interview with FBI agents and, according to the filing, admitted to acting as a politiquera. She reportedly offered a variety of examples on how she would trade for votes for her candidate. She explained how she would offer rides to and from the polls with a detour to a local drug dealer if the voter so wished. According to the complaint, some votes were bought simply with the offer of alcoholic beverages or tobacco.

According to the McAllen Monitor, Castañeda’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 25.

Castañeda was arrested along with another individual being investigated for similar charges, Guadalupe Escamilla. Similar criminal complaints were lodged against her by the FBI in connection to the Donna ISD election. An indictment did clarify that she “assisted in the campaign to elect Democratic candidates to the Donna School Board.”

In February 2014, Breitbart Texas reported on the case of Rebecca Gonzales’ admission to similar vote buying in the Donna ISD election.

The use of ballot brokers like politiqueras or similarly-named campaign operatives is not unique to south Texas. During the same election cycle, the Miami Herald described “boleteros” as “often elderly campaign workers who hustle for absentee-ballot voters.” In both examples, critics of voter identification laws were quick to remind the public that the voting requirement would not prevent such illegal activity. Though in most cases this could prove true, local volunteer solutions and legislative fixes are available.

Specifically in south Texas, a citizen group dedicated itself to educating voters on their rights and the boundaries of legal electioneering. Citizens Against Voter Abuse has executed a door-to-door strategy to get their message out. A February 2014 article in the Brownsville Herald reported that local election officials formally cemented a partnership with the grassroots group to combat fraudulent voting issues.

At large, Houston-based True the Vote rocketed into national politics with its staunch support for election integrity policies like voter ID and a training program for aspiring poll watchers in over 30 states. The group’s national training platform continues to train volunteers ahead of the 2014 General Election.

Legislators seeking to attack fraudulent activity in absentee voting have a model already in operation in Kansas. Those applying for a mail ballot must offer proof of voter identification information in the form itself. For those without a driver’s license number, an array of options are available to establish identity to include a student ID or other official identification offered by federal or state agencies. Such a requirement offers an added level of protection against individuals wishing to cast ballots on behalf of others.

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