DALLAS – In an affidavit, a Dallas voter accuses Elba Garcia of improper assistance in filling out a mail-in ballot in the Democratic primary. The affidavit is part of an investigation into the March primary election, in which Carlos Medrano, a political ally of Elba Garcia and her husband Domingo, defeated Luis Sepulveda in the Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 contest thanks to an inordinate number of mail-in ballots. Sepulveda has since accused the Medrano campaign of using mail-in ballots to commit voter fraud.
Garcia was also on the ballot, as she defeated Rose Renfroe for the Democratic nomination for Dallas County Commissioner Precinct 4. She faces Ken Mayfield in November.
According to an affidavit taken in March, the voter (whose identity we have chosen to withhold for their privacy) stated that Elba Garcia came to their home offering to help fill out a mail-in ballot, even though one had not been requested by the voter. Garcia then helped the voter fill out the ballot and place it in the mail.
According to state law, anyone who assists a voter with a mail-in ballot must must acknowledge their actions by signing the envelope it is returned in. Garcia did not. Such actions have led to accusations of “vote harvesting” by the Sepulveda campaign. The practice of “vote harvesting” involves a campaign worker targeting susceptible voters, in particular the elderly, to influence, manipulate, or outright steal their vote. Accusations of “vote harvesting” have become common in Dallas county elections in recent years, usually involving south Dallas contests.
Sepulveda lost the JP Place 5 primary to Medrano by 149 votes. According to election results from the Dallas County Elections Department, Sepulveda received more votes than Medrano on Election Day, 1694 to 1457, but Medrano received far more mail-in ballots, 606 to 245.
The Garcia and Medrano families are among south Dallas’ most powerful political families, but the implication that Elba Garcia may have been improperly assisting voters may not bode well for her own political aspirations for the county commissioner seat.
Voting controversy seems to follow the Garcias and their allies. During Garcia’s own primary election also held in March, The Dallas Morning News posted audio of Dallas Councilwoman Delia Jasso, Garcia’s friend and hand-picked successor to her council seat, seemingly offering food outside a early voting location to anyone who voted for Garcia.
In 2009, a man identified as a former worker for Domingo Garcia’s past campaigns (Domingo has served as a city councilman and state representative) was accused of possible “vote harvesting” in a contest between Justin Epker and Delia Jasso. The Epker campaign uncovered the man’s actions, but the Jasso campaign denied any connection.
Despite repeated requests to the Dallas district attorney’s office to investigate the claims, DA Craig Watkins has yet to investigate any of the allegations. Watkins has officially endorsed Garcia for County Commissioner. Mayfield, Garcia’s opponent, has criticized Watkins for not investigating possible illegal activity among fellow Democrats serving as county constables.
In response to the accusations, the Ken Mayfield campaign is already reaching out to voters, asking them to report any impropriety regarding Garcia campaign workers going door-to-door, offering help with mail-in ballots.
In late July, a judge ruled against Sepulveda’s request for a new election, despite calling nearly 140 witnesses that testified to possible impropriety and voter fraud. While the district attorney has yet to investigate the matter, the Texas state attorney general has announced they are looking into the allegations.
Sources: Personally obtained copy of the mentioned affidavit, Dallas County Elections, ElbaGarcia.com, Texas Watchdog.com, DallasNews.com