January 18, 2018 | 6 KRISTV
By Greg Chandler

Nueces County Commissioners Wednesday heard witness, after witness, after witness; describe how they’ve been affected by voter fraud in Robstown.

“The voters are the victims, but the candidates are the victims as well,” said Nueces Co. Clerk Kara Sands.

Judge Hermilo Pena, Jr. has been county Justice of the Peace in Robstown and the surrounding area for 24 years. His re-election bids have been un-opposed for the last 20, but this year Judge Pena faces a primary challenge. His challenger, backed by what Pena calls “a well oiled political machine”.

“When you have six people who are controlling city elections based on harvesting these votes, 6-10 people, you can count them on two hands; it’s really disgruntling for the rest of the community,” said Pena.

Sands says she’s seen plenty of evidence of organized voter fraud efforts.

“They have their streets, their addresses and these voters that they continue to go to over and over,” said Sands. “Sometimes they act like they’re doing them a favor; I’m you friend, let me come and help you vote. That’s not how it works.”

Many of these voters who are approached aren’t eligible for help with their ballot.

“If you cannot physically take the ballot to the mailbox, then you can have someone assist you,” said Robstown City Council Member Cezar Martinez. “If you can physically walk that ballot to the mailbox, then you have to do that, no one can just come and do that for you.“

Martinez lost his first election in 2016. He says because of fraudulent mail-in ballots.

“They’re taking these mail ballots and voting for who they want to vote for,” said Martinez.

Martinez, who was elected last November, was part of a bipartisan group from across the state who helped get Senate Bill 5 passed during last August’s special session. The new law, which went into effect December 1st, among other things, toughens penalties for people found engaging in mail-in ballot fraud, including jail felonies.

However, Martinez believes more work can be done.

“We’re looking forward to going next session to see what other provisions can be added to the law to continue to try to stop this,” Martinez. “It’s something that needs to be done.”

Both Sands and Judge Pena declined to name the 6-to-10 people alleged to be engaging in voter fraud in Robstown, saying those names are part of an active investigation which has been sent to the state Attorney General.