Willie Ray, a Texas grandmother and Democrat, says had been helping elderly shut-ins to vote for years when she was singled out by the state Republican attorney general and charged with voter fraud.
“All I did was mail ballots for folks who couldn’t get to a mailbox themselves,” she told her state’s Democratic Convention last week, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“The attorney general admitted there was no fraud, that no ballot was altered,” she said. “But Attorney General Greg Abbott charged me with a crime.”
Ray’s case was part of what Abbott had called “an epidemic” of voter fraud in Texas.
His office prosecuted two dozen such cases, and although few of the investigations uncovered any ineligible voters or deliberate fraud, defendants (including both Ray and her granddaughter) were charged with technical infractions such as improperly signing the envelope in which they mailed ballots.
All the cases were against Democrats, almost all of them black or Hispanic, according to the Morning News.
Two years ago, Democrats filed a suit in federal court, alleging that the attorney general was unfairly targeting minorities in voter fraud cases.
Late last month, Abbott settled the suit.
As part of the settlement, Abbott’s office agreed to only pursue cases involving actual fraud.
Ray told the convention she felt “vindicated.”
Abbott denied any wrongdoing and told the Associated press: “This agreement in no way limits our ability to prosecute anyone or any violation of the voter fraud statute.”
At the Texas Democratic Convention, party officials said the prosecution of people like Ray was part of a larger Republican strategy to use government power to disenfranchise minority voters, who tend to vote for Democrats.
“If they can’t get our votes,” the Morning News quoted Ray as saying, “they’ll do anything to keep us from voting.”
“Democratic activist ‘vindicated’ by outcome of attorney general’s voter fraud probe”
Dallas Morning News, June 7, 2008
“Texas Dems’ suit over voting-fraud cases settled”
Associated Press, May 30, 2008