RIO GRANDE CITY – A Starr County woman is facing charges of voter fraud.
Last week, CHANNEL 5 NEWS reported the Starr County district attorney is taking steps to identify potential voter fraud in the county.
On Monday, she was arrested; more arrests could follow.
Fifty-year-old Ernestina Barron was booked into the county jail Monday morning. She is facing six charges.
Three counts of election fraud. These are Class A misdemeanors. They have a penalty of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
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She’s also facing three counts for fraudulent use of an application for ballot by mail. These are state jail felonies. That can include up to four years in state prison and a fine of $10,000.
According to the affidavits, Barron signed up a felon to receive a ballot by mail due to a disability.
Investigators say the felon denied being disabled as he was a cowboy. He also claimed raising the concern to Barron before being signed up.
Two other affidavits have similar accounts of two separate voters. The voters denied filling out the form stating that they had a disability.
The investigation is under the Starr County District Attorney’s Office.
District attorney Omar Escobar says they seek to ensure the sanctity of voting especially when the ballot is outside of a polling site.
“It’s too easy to exert influence and pressure on somebody at home. An assistant, a worker, an election worker to go and ask them, ‘did you already receive your ballot by mail?’ ‘Yes. I got it here’. And then to hover over the ballot and to vote a particular way,” said Escobar.
The affidavits also state another woman was seen with Barron. There is a potential for other arrests.
Barron is an employee of Rio Grande City Consolidated Independent School District. She has been put on administrative leave.
An internal investigation is also being carried out.
The school district’s attorney says the terms of her leave are still being worked on, this includes whether or not she will be paid during her leave.