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Starr Co. Fighting Dead Voter Allegations

2 years 5 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, April 03 2018 Apr 3, 2018 April 03, 2018 9:38 PM April 03, 2018 in News

RIO GRANDE CITY – Starr County is disputing claims made by the Texas Attorney General's Office.

The AG's Office claimed a dead voter voted three times since his death.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS requested voter records and received them to look into the claim.

After receiving records from Starr County showing who voted and when we found no match to what the AG's Office reported to lawmakers.

We questioned the AG's Office. It issued a statement saying at least one dead person voted in Starr County, and it will pursue the individuals responsible.

In February, before a room full of senators, Deputy First Assistant Attorney General Brantley Star spoke before the committee on election fraud.

"One shout out to a voter in Starr County, a retired district judge born in 1930. By the time 2010 rolled around, he was 80 years old and has voted still three times since then, to the best of our knowledge, a county judge,” he said. “The interesting thing that's remarkable of him voting three times in his 80s, is he died in May of 2010.”

Starr County's attorneys sent them a letter in late March. In it, they call the allegation made by the Attorney General's Office "patently false."

Attached to the letter are the former judge's voting records. They also attached the records of his son and grandson, Blas Chapa Jr. and Blas Chapa III.

They believe the AG's Office got the names and the people who voted confused.

We obtained records from the Secretary of State's Office and Starr County.

The Secretary of State's records indicate Blas Chapa Sr., Blas Chapa Jr., and Blas Chapa III have a current "active" status.

Their records, and the county's, also show the last time former Judge Blas Chapa voted was March 2010, two months before his death.

The Blas Chapas who voted after his death were his son and grandson.

Records show Blas Chapa III voted one time after March 2010; Chapa Jr. voted 10 times since.

We spoke to Blas Chapa Jr. He tells us the news caught his family by surprise. They didn't know how or why anyone would use his father's voter identification.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to the Attorney General's Office to ask for an explanation. We received the following from Marc Rylander, director of communications for the Attorney General of Texas, which states in part:

"County election administrators face many challenges in keeping up-to-date voter rolls, including removing dead voters from the rolls. State law focuses the role of the attorney general on election crimes. 

We are less concerned about election administrators doing their best than on fraud that people can use to exploit an imperfect voter roll. At this juncture, our office can confirm there are dead voters on the rolls in Starr County. 

But more importantly, we can confirm at least one instance of a dead person actually voting in Starr County. We will pursue the individuals responsible for any fraudulent votes and strive to bring them to justice."

There was no mention of who that dead voter might be or when charges might be filed.

Starr County District Attorney Omar Escobar confirms his investigation of the voter records did yield a vote by a dead person. But he says it was not Blas Chapa. 

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