The Texas attorney general’s office has offered to assist Starr County in its investigation into voter fraud.
Omar Escobar, the 229th district attorney, launched the investigation after the Starr County Elections Department was notified of questionable applications for mail-in ballots.
Two arrests have already been made since the investigation began last month.
Along with receiving assistance from the Starr County Special Crimes Unit, Escobar said he would also be seeking help from the attorney general’s office regarding the applicability of the new election laws.
During a special session last year, the Texas legislature passed changes to the election laws through Senate Bill 5. The bill, which went into effect on Dec. 1, 2017, made it a state jail felony to provide false information on a ballot application or submit an application without a voter’s permission.
On Monday, the attorney general’s office sent a letter to Escobar agreeing to assist in the county’s efforts.
“We fully support your efforts to educate your district on existing and newly amended voting laws, and to take appropriate enforcement and prosecution actions to address serious offenses that undermine the integrity of the democratic process,” Brantley Starr, deputy first assistant attorney general stated in the letter. “We stand ready to assist you in whatever way we are able in your efforts to eliminate fraudulent voting and vote harvesting activity.”
Upon SB 5 going into effect, Escobar said his office reached out to the attorney general’s office to get their input on how the amended election laws should be enforced.
“They’ve been offering support and help ever since,” Escobar said.
In a separate letter to state Sen. Bryan Hughes, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Election Integrity, the attorney general’s office addressed the need to “provide additional safeguards,” citing recent news reports of election fraud.
With the current investigation underway in Starr County, Escobar said the focus of the assistance from the attorney general’s office will continue to focus on education and enforcement of the laws. If need be, though, they can also help in prosecuting cases.
“We’ve always said you don’t need to agree with the election laws, you just need to follow them and that’s what we’ve been trying to do,” Escobar said. “Some people have and some people have not, so we’re going to continue working with the attorney general’s office to make sure that the new laws are implemented.”