Calhoun County Sheriff's Office investigates voter fraud allegation

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

March 25, 2014 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated March 25, 2014 at 10:26 p.m.

A Calhoun County woman is under investigation for voter fraud after the secretary of state's office suspected her of casting two ballots in the primary election.

Calhoun County District Attorney Dan Heard said the sheriff's office is investigating the March 4 election, in which the county's Democratic Party chairwoman, Evelyn Burleson, is suspected of voting twice. Heard would not comment about whether others were included in the investigation.

After compiling a routine report, the secretary of state notified the county elections administrator, Dora Garcia, last week that Burleson, 78, of Port Lavaca, showed up twice on the voter list - once for early voting and again on election day.

Garcia said she is unsure how Burleson was given two ballots.

"We don't have computers at every polling place; we still have hard paper," Garcia said. "When they vote early, we mark them as voted, and that same list used on early voting goes to the polling place on election day."

Unlike voter fraud, which is deception committed by individual voters such as voting more than once or impersonating a voter, election fraud encompasses actions by others, including election officials or campaign workers.

She said Burleson's name should have been marked on the list, and she should not have been given a second ballot.

Because Burleson hires the election judges, those workers are also under investigation, Garcia said.

"We were shocked," she said.

Attempts to reach Burleson for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The double ballot will not affect any election outcome but is considered a third-degree felony.

Alicia Pierce, deputy communications director for the Texas secretary of state, said it is up to the candidates to file a complaint.

Susan Riley, a candidate for county clerk who tied with Grace Gonzalez with 630 votes, said she does not plan to file a complaint and wants to leave the issue alone.

Riley won a coin flip to be on the runoff ballot against another Democratic candidate for county clerk, Shelby Sebastian.

"The secretary of state has said that the recount is upheld, so as far as I'm concerned, that's good enough for me," Riley said.

Attempts to reach Gonzalez were unsuccessful.



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