Starr County woman arrested for illegally voting using dead person's identity


    Bernice Annette Garza was indicted by a Hidalgo County grand jury and charged with voter impersonation, illegal voting and providing false information on an application for an early voting ballot. (Source: Hidalgo County Public Records)

    A Starr County woman has been arrested for illegally voting using a dead person’s identity in 2016.

    According to a release by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, Bernice Annette Garza was indicted by a Hidalgo County grand jury and charged with voter impersonation, illegal voting and providing false information on an application for an early voting ballot.

    The release stated that Garza signed and submitted an application for early voting ballot by mail for Hortencia Rio, who died nine years earlier. Garza then used the woman’s identity to cast a vote by mail.

    “Mail ballots are inherently insecure. Vote harvesters, who make a living by exploiting vulnerable processes intended to make it easier for people to vote, threaten the viability of the mail ballot system and must be caught and prosecuted,” Attorney General Paxton said in a release. “My office will continue to use everything in its power to prevent voter fraud and restore integrity to the voting process in Texas.”

    If convicted, the illegal voting charges against her are punishable by two to 20 years behind bars.

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