Harris County Election Workers Plead Guilty to Illegal Voting

Isn't it ironic?

Two Harris County election workers pleaded guilty to illegally voting during the May 24, 2016, primary runoff election, Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart announced Monday.

Jeanene Johnson, 63, and Latunia Thomas, 46, were charged with unlawful deposit of a ballot, a felony, though it was later dropped to a misdemeanor. The pair served one day in jail.

Thomas's daughter was out of town apparently for a very long time, given that Johnson helped Thomas cast a vote for her during early voting. Stanart said that Johnson worked the electronic poll book, found Thomas's daughter's name and issued her the access code to allow Thomas to vote for her.

Meanwhile, fellow election workers witnessed the whole incident. The election judge at the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services voting location contacted Stanart's office, which immediately began investigating and taking written statements. "I sent someone out there to let them go," Stanart said, "but by the time they got out there, the two had left. I guess they figured out they were in trouble."

Both Johnson and Thomas have old criminal histories, but Johnson's also includes two felony convictions for forging checks in 1975 and 1989. She was also convicted for the misdemeanor "hindering apprehension," for attempting to help another person avoid arrest or prosecution, in 2003.

Stanart said that Johnson and Thomas became election workers at the suggestion of the Harris County Democratic Party. Both the county Democratic and Republican parties provide Stanart's office with a list of election workers they would like to work the polls, which is a procedure outlined in the election code. Stanart said his office does not necessarily have the authority to vet, remove or replace election workers suggested by the political parties. While that's intended to serve as a precaution against allowing county governments to have too much power in selecting poll workers, Stanart said he'd like to have the ability to at least vet people to avoid something like this.

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