A state investigation into alleged voter fraud in Tarrant County is underway, top Texas officials confirmed last week.
“Largest voter fraud investigation in Texas history underway in Tarrant County. We will crush illegal voting,” Gov. Greg Abbott stated on social media.
Attorney General Ken Paxton similarly repeated on social media the announcement of the investigation about a week ago, when investigators from his office fanned out in Fort Worth to interview voters about the alleged fraud.
The complaint that prompted the investigation was brought by Aaron Harris, founder of North Richland Hills-based Direct Action Texas, an advocacy group supporting transparency in local government.
The complaint suggests abuse of mail-in ballots in past local elections in Tarrant County. This type of fraud, commonly known as vote harvesting, has been criticized as a way to game the election system.
The allegations do not appear to be connected to activity associated with the upcoming Nov. 8 election.
Tarrant County officials could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
The allegations of mail-in ballot fraud in Tarrant County also do not appear to be connected to the requirements of Texas voter ID laws.
“This is a form of voting that requires no voter identification whatsoever,” Harris told the Fort Worth Business Press on Sunday.
Mail-in ballots are commonly used in all elections to collect the votes of residents living overseas, members of the military and aged and infirmed voters who cannot appear at the polls in person.
“We have heard rumors for years of manipulation of the elections system in Tarrant County and thought it was time for someone to look into the facts, according to a statement from Direct Action. The organization “spent countless hours analyzing open records requests, noticing patterns.”
The organization said it uncovered about 20,000 questionable ballots obtained over four years, primarily in within minority communities.
“This vote harvesting operation preys on the elderly and the economically disadvantaged, who are among our most vulnerable neighbors,” the statement said.
The organization took its findings to Secretary of State Carlos Cascos. After reviewing the complaint, Secretary of State officials contacted the Attorney General to pursue a criminal investigation.
“After a review of the submitted documentation, we believe the information regarding the offenses warrants a submission for criminal investigation to the Texas Attorney General,” states a Jan. 22 letter from the Secretary of State to David Maxwell, director of law enforcement for the Attorney General.
The partially-redacted letter was posted on the website of Direct Action.
The letter outlines violations such as forgery and tampering with a governmental record, improper assistance and improperly serving as a witness for multiple voters.
Offenses range from Class B misdemeanors to state jail felonies.
Harris said he plans to announce more details of the Direct Action investigation at a community meeting at 6:45 p.m. Monday at the Fort Worth Elks Lodge #124, 3233 White Settlement Road.