Democrat Operative Pleads Guilty to Illegal Ballot Harvesting During 2020 Arizona Primary Election


A well-known Democratic operative pleaded guilty Thursday to ballot abuse — or ballot harvesting, which was made illegal under a 2016 Arizona state law — during the 2020 primary election, the
Associated Press reported.

What are the details?

Guillermina Fuentes, 66, could get probation for running what investigators with the Arizona attorney general’s office said was an operation in the border city of San Luis to persuade voters to let her gather — and in some cases fill out — their ballots, the AP said.

In a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped three felony counts alleging Fuentes filled out one voter’s ballot and forged signatures on some of the four ballots she illegally returned for non-family members, the outlet reported.

More from the AP:

Fuentes, a former San Luis mayor who serves as an elected board member of the Gadsden Elementary School District in San Luis, could be sentenced to up to two years in prison, but that would require a judge to find aggravating circumstances. The plea agreement leaves the actual sentence up to a judge, who could give her probation, home confinement and a hefty fine for her admission to illegally collecting and returning four voted ballots.

Sentencing was set for June 30. She will lose her voting rights and must give up elected office.

Attorney Anne Chapman said in an email Thursday that she had no comment on the charges against her client.

But Chapman ripped the state’s ballot collection law, the outlet said, saying it makes things more difficult for minorities who historically have relied on others to help them vote: “This prosecution shows that the law is part of ongoing anti-democratic, state-wide, and national voter suppression efforts.”

What’s the background?

Fuentes and her co-defendant were seen with several mail-in envelopes outside a cultural center in San Luis on the day of the 2020 primary election, investigators’ reports show, the AP said, adding that the ballots were dropped in an indoor ballot box.

A write-in candidate recorded video of Fuentes and then called the Yuma County sheriff, the outlet added. The investigators’ reports said video shows Fuentes marking at least one ballot — but that charge was dropped, the AP said.

While the case involved only a handful of ballots, the outlet said investigators believe the scheme went much farther.

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