Friday, February 17, 2006

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Attorney General Abbott Wins Indictments Against Texarkana Official, Two Others For Voter Fraud

TEXARKANA – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today obtained indictments against a Texarkana City Council member and two other women for illegally handling mail-in ballots for seniors and other voters during the November 2004 general elections.

A Bowie County grand jury indicted Texarkana Ward 2 City Councilwoman Willie J. Ray, 68, Melinda Hunter, 34, and Jamillah Johnson, 30, on charges of illegally possessing and transporting election ballots of several voters. Ray and Hunter were charged with seven counts each, Johnson with two.

“The integrity of our election process must be protected,” said Attorney General Abbott. “I am pleased to announce these indictments and will make certain that anyone who takes advantage of Texas voters is held accountable.”

The indictment alleges that during the November 2004 general elections, the three women illegally assisted several voters, including some seniors, in filling out applications for mail-in ballots. When the ballots arrived by mail, the women returned to these homes to collect completed ballots and mailed them for the residents.

The charges, Class B misdemeanors, could result in a $2,000 fine and up to six months in county jail. Assistant Attorney General Will Tatum presented the case to the grand jury.

The cases represent the Attorney General’s fifth case since mid-2005 against individuals for voter fraud in Texas. All were investigated and prosecuted on referral from the Texas Secretary of State.

Last month, the mother of a March 2004 primary candidate for Reeves County sheriff and another woman were indicted for illegally possessing and transporting election ballots of several voters.

In December, four individuals were indicted for illegally possessing and transporting election ballots following a May 2005 Robstown Independent School District election in Nueces County. In November, Attorney General Abbott obtained a guilty plea from a Hardeman County Commissioner for collecting mail-in ballots while he was a candidate in the 2004 primary and general elections. In July, a Bee County woman pleaded guilty to charges of mailing an absentee ballot in the name of her deceased mother.