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Texas Secretary Of State Says Voter Fraud Exists But He Doesn't Know How To Fix It

Jeff Whittington/KERA News
Krys Boyd interviews Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos

Early voting participation is up more than 40 percent in some counties in Texas. Some voters, though, worry about the possibility of voter fraud. On Think, Krys Boyd talked about the issue with Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos — who also serves as the state’s Chief Election Officer.

The KERA Interview

Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos on: 

… if voter fraud is rare in Texas:  

“We don’t know. I can tell you that fraud does exist. It does happen. How much of it? We’re not really sure, because not all of it may be addressed or caught. I can tell you that when I ran in 2010 there was some voter fraud that affected my race. Voter fraud is something that can happen at different levels. I think when people ask me about voter fraud, I ask them, ‘Well, be more specific. What is it that you really mean to say about voter fraud? Does it happen on Election Day? Does it happen during early voting? Does it happen during the mail-in ballots? Does it happen during recount elections? You know, what do you mean?'"

… whether Texans can have faith in elections:  

“We acknowledge that fraud does exist in elections. Now, whether they can sway elections, we don’t know what those numbers are. I can tell you about what happened in my race. I ended up winning by 69 votes out of 42,000 that were casted. In South Texas, when I was county judge there were a lot of races, a lot of local races that were decided by sometimes one vote. Just this past May there was a school board election in Harlingen that tied, so they had to redo another election. Is it possible for a fraudulent vote to be cast or votes to be cast that change an election? Yeah, it is.”  

… how prevalent voter fraud is:

“I don’t know if anybody knows how prevalent it is, because the only time you find out is when somebody gets caught. It’s like anything else. I mean you could have 50 people run a stop sign, and you may catch three of them, but you don’t catch the other 47. It’s the same thing with this. No one can pinpoint if they say there’s, you know, 10 percent is fraud, 5 percent is fraud, 3 percent is fraud. To me, every vote counts. I heard someone say, ‘Well, that’s like taking a very philosophical approach.’ Well, at the end of the day it is. I believe that every vote does count, and it matters. I take voter fraud and the integrity of the elections very seriously.”  

Issues at the polls have been reported during early voting

With early voting underway in Texas, voting rights advocates say there have been hundreds of complaints across the state regarding problems at the polls.

The Texas Election Protection coalition said those reports have largely been about polling stations sharing inaccurate information about the state's recently modified voter ID rules. The group says outdated posters have been spotted in Dallas, Tarrant and Denton counties.

On Think, Cascos said his office has provided all the necessary materials to local election offices.

“Unfortunately, sometimes there’s a human error. They forget to open the box the new signs come in, they use the old boxes, but as soon as we’re made aware of that, we do contact that particular elections administrator or elections office and say, ‘we got a complaint.’ By that time, the signs have already been replaced, and the new ones put on. They do it pretty rapidly.”

In July, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas' 2011 voter ID law discriminated against minority groups. In August, a federal judge ordered a temporary fix. Voters who don't have ID can still cast a ballot. They have to sign a form swearing there IS a reason for not having a photo ID, and present an alternate form of ID — like a valid voter registration card or a current utility bill.