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Allegations of election code violations by elections judges
By Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas-- Just one day after elections KFOX14 uncovers possible fraud at the polls by the very people entrusted to ensure transparency.
Elections administrator for the Republican Party of El Paso, Bob Pena, shares documents that show a concerning pattern of election judges hiring relatives to work at polling places, switching voter ID numbers and hiring ineligible people to work the polls.
"We have to concern ourselves as much with whose behind the desk counting the ballots as we do with whose in front casting the ballot," said Pena.
Earlier this year, the city removed elections judge Cecilia Avila for having 23 voters registered at her residence. When KFOX14 went to her home, Avila admitted there were not 23 people living there. She insisted some relatives simply forgot to change their address.
Yet, Avila still served as a judge for the county election on Tuesday. The list was submitted by County Elections Administrator Javier Chacon and approved by county commissioners.
"The city did find it appropriate to remove that person from such position however that person did continue to be a judge in yesterday's election," said Pena.
When KFOX14 asked Chacon about the complaints he said it is the responsibility of the Republican and Democratic parties in El Paso to vet who they nominate as judges.
Pena said another judge in Precinct 3 hired relatives to work at the polls and also used a false voter ID number. He showed KFOX14 documents proving the blood relationship between the precinct judge and the poll workers, a clear violation of government code.
"The elections code is very specific on that because they want to maintain the integrity of the election and if you have an election judge who has relatives working the polls, they are reluctant to be impartial if the judge says something they'll go along with it. You must have people who are not related," said Pena.
Despite bringing those documents forward to the county, the judge served in Tuesday's election.
"It's disappointing to see those things continue," said Pena.
The city's attorney's office did file charges against one judge for nepotism and violating Texas Government Code. According to the documents, precinct judge Dolores Bolanos hired her husband and daughter to work at her polling location. Those are positions that are compensated by public funds.
"It's well known that you cannot do that. It's a misdemeanor offense and it has a very serious fine but yet there are other judges that just don't care and continue to do it," said Pena.