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Did Texas GOP Exploit Small County Race For Their Election Fraud Agenda?

Texas Republicans have always been eager to cast doubt on election integrity, and in 2018, a small county race helped do just that. Conservatives were able to portray an election system awash in fraud, that later on helped Attorney General Ken Paxton taint the 2020 presidential elections with doubt.

Gregg County commissioner’s race in the Democratic primaries became the face of voter fraud after Kasha Williams lost her 60 percent in-person votes lead, to Shannon Brown after officials tallied an unusually large number of absentee ballots.

Nearly half of Brown’s total votes were from mail-in ballots, and suspiciously hundreds from the small precinct were from voters claiming to be disabled. According to Jennifer Briggs, the county election administrator, outsized numbers of absentee ballots in Democratic primaries “had become a pattern,” and this time it appeared to have flipped a race.

After Paxton dispatched an investigative team, Brown was charged with 134 felony election crimes and the case soon became the face of voter fraud for Texas Republicans.

Invoking the hometown case, Gregg County Republicans led efforts to make it harder to vote by mail, following the lead of a defeated Donald Trump, who launched a campaign to cast doubt on election integrity.

“We’re here because we’re responding to some real problems in Texas,” Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, said at the signing ceremony for his election reform bill. “We have a county commissioner under indictment for mail ballot fraud. Anybody who tells you there is no voter fraud in Texas is telling you a very big lie.”

However, now that the political spotlight wasn’t on them something shifted. According to The Houston Chronicle, none of the defendants suspected of stealing the election saw jail time, pleading guilty to a single misdemeanor each.

After all the commotion the results seemed particularly interesting.

“Honestly, when all of this happened, and certain people chose this to be the face of voter fraud, I knew it would run its course,” said Cheteva Marshall, who organized phone banks for Williams’2018 primary. “I didn’t believe there would be any harsh punishment. I believe it was used for political gain.”

Texas’ GOP decided to pass voter fraud laws based on this small county race, and now all the officials seemed uninterested in discussing the matter.

District Attorney Tom Watson and Rep. Hughes did not return calls from the Houston Chronicle. Jonathan White, the head of Paxton’s voter fraud unit, declined an interview request, and Brown’s attorney said the commissioner was indisposed. 

Staff
Staff
Written by RA News staff.

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