Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Monday he will prosecute a Mexican woman charged with stealing an American citizen’s identity and then using it to cast ballots in three presidential election years.
Laura Janeth Garza was spotted after the American woman went to get a passport, only to have the State Department discover Ms. Garza had already gotten one in her identity. Federal officials alerted Texas, which conducted a probe and found Ms. Garza also illegally registered to vote and cast ballots in 2004, 2012 and 2016, Mr. Paxton said.
“This case demonstrates my office’s commitment to protecting the integrity of elections,” the attorney general said in a statement announcing the prosecution.
She is being charged with two counts of illegal voting, both stemming from the 2016 election, according to indictments from Montgomery County, north of Houston.
If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.
The case is one of more extreme cases of possible voter fraud, and it comes at a time when the existence of the problem is hotly debated. President Trump has argued — with scant evidence — that the extent of fraudulent voting was perhaps 3 million votes in 2016.
Some analysts have calculated a level of fraudulent voting does exist, though much lower than Mr. Trump’s claims.
The president created a White House commission to study voter fraud last year, then disbanded it in January after it bogged down in messy legal fights, stumbles over its operations and resistance from state officials over whether to provide data that could shed light on the extent of fraud.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation has found thousands of instances of voter fraud in Virginia and New Jersey after obtaining state records showing people who had been registered to vote then later canceled their registration, saying they actually weren’t citizens.
Those people usually appear to have signed up to vote while prodded to do so at a state motor vehicles bureau. Some of them then went on to actually cast ballots, according to the PILF’s research.
The PILF is also currently battling Harris County, Texas, which borders Montgomery County, for access to its voting records.
Harris County Voter Registrar Ann Harris Bennett argues she’s only required to make public those people removed from her rolls because they’ve died or changed residence — not people who have been removed because they aren’t citizens.
The PILF says every court that’s ruled on the matter has disagreed with Ms. Bennett’s position.
Mr. Paxton has also weighed in on that case, urging a state court to allow the PILF to look at the records.