Victoria County woman arrested on voter fraud charges

Monica Rene Mendez

A Port Lavaca woman pleaded guilty to 26 counts of voter fraud in the 24th Judicial District Court this month.

District Judge Eli Garza sentenced Monica Renee Mendez, 37, to five years deferred adjudication probation, 80 hours of community service and added fees and fines totaling $1,415 after she entered her guilty plea on June 8.

The charges stem from a May 2018 Bloomington water board election involving eight voters’ ballots.

Victoria County Elections Administrator Margetta Hill said in June 2021 Mendez worked as a volunteer deputy registrar during the 2018 water board election in Bloomington.

As a volunteer deputy registrar, Mendez would have been responsible for helping residents register to vote, Hill said. After local officials were notified that the attorney general’s office was investigating Mendez’s conduct in 2018, Mendez’s registrar certification was not renewed.

“Once we get wind of something that’s not right, we have the right to revoke her certificate,” Hill said in 2021. “We didn’t renew it.

Bloomington’s water board election came under scrutiny in 2018 after about 275 people in the rural town of 2,500 registered to vote using the same mailing address. The mailing address was a post office box associated with rental properties linked to ALMS, a local housing nonprofit accused of unfairly trying to win votes during that election.

“Mendez ran a vote-harvesting operation on behalf of a subsidized housing corporation in order to influence the outcome of a utility board election,” according to a statement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.

Mendez pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal voting, eight counts of election fraud, seven counts of assisting a voter to submit a ballot by mail and eight counts of unlawful possession of a mail ballot.

The case was prosecuted by Paxton’s election integrity team in cooperation with the Victoria County District Attorney’s Office.

Illegal voting, which includes impersonating another voter or knowingly marking another person’s ballot without their consent, is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, according to the Texas Election Code. Attempted illegal voting is a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.

Unlawful voter assistance, which includes aiding voters ineligible to receive assistance, filling out a voter’s ballot in a way other than the way the voter directs, suggesting how the voter should vote while helping fill out their ballot or providing help to a voter who has not requested assistance, is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

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Kyle Cotton was born and raised in San Antonio and graduated from San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Arlington. Cotton has covered economic development, health care, finance, government, technology, oil and gas and higher education.

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Kyle Cotton was born and raised in San Antonio and graduated from San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Arlington. Cotton has covered economic development, health care, finance, government, technology, oil and gas and higher education.