Texas Elections 2018

Former state Rep. Norma Chávez sues over alleged election fraud in race to replace U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke

A lawsuit filed in El Paso County on Thursday alleges fraud in the Democratic primary race for Texas' 16th Congressional District.

Left to right: Dori Fenenbock, Norma Chávez and Veronica Escobar during the Tejano Democrats Endorsement Forum at El Paso Community College on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. 
Texas Elections 2018

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in the race for U.S. Senate. View full 2018 Texas election results or subscribe to The Brief for the latest election news.

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A former El Paso state representative and two other candidates who lost their primary elections for U.S. Congress by a landslide have filed a lawsuit in El Paso County alleging voter fraud.

The lawsuit, first reported by the El Paso Times, was filed by former state Rep. Norma Chávez, who represented El Paso’s central and east sides in the Texas House for seven terms. Candidates John Carrillo and Enrique Garcia are also named as plaintiffs. 

The lawsuit alleges that fraud and other mischief were the reason former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar bested her opponents by such a wide margin. Escobar received 61.4 percent of the vote on March 6; Chávez and Garcia received 6.7 and 5.3 percent, respectively, while Carrillo earned 1.5 percent.

Dori Fenenbock, who was considered Escobar’s closest competitor, is not listed as a party to the lawsuit. Neither is a sixth candidate, Jerome Tilghman. Fenenbock and Tilghman garnered 22 and 3 percent of the vote totals, respectively.

In the lawsuit, a copy of which is available on the El Paso Times website, Carrillo, Chávez and Garcia contend that “an election officer or other persons officially involved in the administration of the election, including [county elections administrator] Lisa Wise, engaged in fraud or illegal conduct.”

Specifically, they allege that Wise and others tampered with “initial programming of some of the [voting machines'] hard drives before the election began and distributing those hard drives to high-producing voting locations to extract votes from petitioners for the benefit of Veronica Escobar."

The plaintiffs ask that the elections department show proof that the results after the final canvass were correct and the outcome of the election is true.

Escobar responded with a statement Thursday saying voter fraud concerns "are serious and should be examined" but that "it is concerning that there are accusations being made in a lawsuit without any shred of evidence."

On her Facebook page, Chávez claimed the judge assigned to the case, Anna Perez, is Escobar’s friend and supporter and said they will seek a change of venue. She added that according to her information, records show her voting at a different place, Bassett Center in the city’s Central side, instead of where she actually cast her ballot, at the La Fe technology center.

But after former El Paso Times editor Bob Moore commented on her page that the elections department shows her voting where she said, Chávez said her attorney instructed her not to comment.

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