With the election right around the corner, law enforcement officials are going to have their eyes peeled for any signs of possible voting fraud. Like the situation that recently sent a Fort Worth woman back to prison.
She was on supervised release after a conviction for tax fraud when she voted in the 2016 election. Since convicted felons cannot vote in Texas until they have completed the terms of the sentence, the woman was in violation, and she will serve an additional 10 months in federal prison – after five years in state prison.
The kicker? She didn’t realize she was doing anything wrong at the time.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t matter. The state of Texas will prosecute anyone who tampers with city, county, or state voting processes. Voting rights are protected by both state and federal laws and will be upheld in court if a violation occurs.
Even though studies show that voter fraud is relatively rare, there are lots of stories like that of the woman above – people who get in big trouble with the law for election activities they didn’t even know were illegal.
Because of this, we have decided to put together this guide to tell you what you need to know to prevent yourself from being charged.
The below actions constitute voter fraud in Texas. Make sure to avoid them so you do not commit a crime.
Anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or is a convicted felon is not allowed to register to vote or cast a vote. Make sure you have valid identification or driver’s license as proof of your right to vote.
You can commit voter fraud by using a name, residence, or address that is not yours. Follow directions carefully so you do not make a mistake while registering to vote.
If you cast a vote for someone else, you are committing a criminal offense. You cannot cast a vote on behalf of anyone else, including someone who has moved, is incarcerated, or has died.
You are not permitted to register to vote or cast a vote in more than one location. You can be penalized for voting within multiple jurisdictions or for voting more than once in the same jurisdiction.
False Absentee Ballots
It’s important to use absentee ballots for their intended purposes. You cannot forge a signature, instruct an absentee ballot voter on their vote, or request an absentee ballot and vote on another person’s behalf. If you commit any of these actions, you may be subject to voter fraud charges.
If you forge a signature on a ballot petition, you can face criminal charges.
You can face criminal penalties for using intimidation or force to influence another person’s vote. These tactics are most often used against the elderly, disabled, illiterate, and non-native English speakers.
It is a crime to pay someone to vote a certain way in person or by ballot.
Tampering with Votes
An election worker can face criminal charges for tampering with votes in voting precincts or central voting locations.
Consult with an attorney to learn more about which actions constitute voter fraud in Texas.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.