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      Hidalgo County cracks down on voter fraud

      The Hidalgo County Commissioner's Court has granted district attorney Rene Guerra approval to hire two investigators to prosecute any political candidate or supporter who participates in illegal voter assistance.

      The new investigators will be tasked to find candidates and their campaign workers who are illegally persuading voters to vote for certain school board members or city officials.

      "We need to stop un-American activities if we feel like we are a great democratic country," Guerra said.

      The state statue allows only those who are disabled or who do not read or write in English to receive assistance while voting.

      But Guerra says many who don't fall into those two categories are being helped.

      "If a high school kid has to be assisted to voting that means that school district has done a lousy job in teaching that kid," Guerra said.

      Some voters Guerra said are even paid off.

      "The reason is forced labor, pressure, coercion, retaliation or money," Guerra said.

      Last year state representative Aaron Pena introduced a piece of legislation to combat the same problem.

      "It breeds corruption anytime you break the law to win an election and we have to put a stop to it," Pena said.

      While the bill failed at the state level, Pena said he is happy to see local officials ensuring the integrity of the elections.

      "Corruption, people are sick and tired of it, they want action," Pena said. "These are not the sort of people we want elected. Anyone willing to stoop to this level doesn't deserve to be in public office."

      Guerra says if he can prove it, he will indict those involved and will require election judges to report any suspicions or face the same consequences.