Texas Judge Tosses ‘Without Merit’ GOP Case Alleging Voter Fraud

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Republicans who seem eager to find fraud in just about every electoral cycle these days have once again been dealt a defeat. In Texas, Bandera County Judge Melvin “Rex” Emerson has dismissed all of the election fraud charges that Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) had brought against Tomas “Tommy” Ramirez, who’s served as a justice of the peace in the state’s Medina County. Paxton had alleged that Ramirez participated in an illegal vote harvesting operation at assisted living facilities during the lead-up to the 2018 Republican primary that would apparently be for the justice of the peace position that he currently occupies.

Ballot harvesting, as it’s called, refers to the collection by third parties of absentee votes, which are then delivered to local election authorities. Ramirez called Paxton’s case against him “politically motivated and… totally unjustified,” alleging that the state Attorney General “[pushed] for an indictment just to get headlines and rile up his base,” as the San Antonio Express-News summarizes. Notably, Emerson’s dismissal of the case against Ramirez emerged shortly after a separate judicial conclusion in Texas that the state Attorney General couldn’t unilaterally prosecute certain election-related cases after all. With those provisions set aside, Paxton can only involve himself in such matters following requests to do so by district or county attorneys.

The Express-News calls that latter ruling “a blow for Texas Republicans who have promoted former President Donald Trump’s discredited claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.” Consistently, allies of the former president have sought to bring more power into their own corners, trying to allow themselves further control over the circumstances of the electoral process — which would include legal fights that come after it. Paxton has been a supporter of Trump’s false claims of election fraud, having even filed a case after last year’s presidential election that sought the invalidation of Biden’s wins in four individual states.

As for Ramirez’s situation, he observed that Paxton’s team “conducted an investigation that took a year, and their conclusions failed to find any probable cause of any law that I had violated.” Republicans have consistently raised concerns about the supposed threat of election fraud, even though the kind of systematic issues that they’ve claimed to be present have simply not been proven. Nevertheless, certain Republican state officials have sought to use trumped up election fraud worries as excuses for suppressive new restrictions on the electoral process, making it more difficult for members of marginalized communities to vote.