EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Robert Peña can’t help but laugh as he thumbs through printouts of El Paso County voter registration rolls.
“We gotta hold some kind of Guinness record for having the most registered voters over 100 (years old),” says the executive director of the Republican Party in the county. “We got more than 1,000 and half of them were born on the same day — Jan. 1, 1901.”
GOP officials say up to 74,000 county residents who haven’t voted in 10 years or more probably moved out or died. Yet, their names remain on the active rolls and that could spell trouble in the upcoming Nov. 3 general election.
Volunteers are going door to door verifying that the oldest voters are still alive or residing at their address of record and filing affidavits seeking to remove the names of those who’ve passed on.
Peña sees an urgency to remove the dead from the list of eligible voters to prevent mail-in ballot fraud in November.
“In El Paso, as in many places right now, there is a greater push to do mail-in ballots because of the COVID situation,” Peña said. “So if somebody from this address (tells) the county, ‘send me an application’ to vote by mail […] they get the ballot, send it back, the signatures are the same because the person who requested the ballot is the same who submits it. There is no way of knowing any validity to it.”
The GOP showed Border Report an 18-page list of “questionable” registered voters in El Paso County with the oldest of the 486 having a birth date of Jan. 10, 1900 and the “youngest” being born on Dec. 6, 1909. The oldest voter, Maria Gonzalez, and the youngest, Emilia Rojas, allegedly remain eligible to vote at 120 and 110 years of age, respectively.
Peña said the centenarians on the list remain on the rolls because the county never received notice of their death and no one challenged their legitimacy — until now. Late last week, GOP officials submitted a notarized affidavit saying at least 179 of those voters do not reside in the county.
GOP officials said their state legislators would be making a major push after the elections to improve the accuracy of the voter registry.
Mail-in ballots “is not like when you go to vote that you’re showing a valid, up to date driver’s license or identification or passport,” Peña said. “Mail-in ballots is a fine thing to do, but you gotta have accurate records.”
Iliana Holguin, outgoing El Paso County Democratic Party chair, said she’s been told that birth dates used to be filled in by county workers many years ago when the voter’s information was missing. A Jan. 1 entry was among those mentioned. That, she said, may lead to the longevity in question.
She added that Republicans have had a “fear campaign” for a long time to discourage some people from participating in elections, and that mail-in voting has been a favorite target.
“We know that Republicans want to make it difficult for people to vote because they know when a lot of people vote, they lose,” Holguin said. “At the local, state and national level we see attacks on mail-in voting and we hear of potential fraud when we know that voting by mail is actually very safe and secure.”
In an email to Border Report, county election officials said voter registration forms in the past did nt always require birthdates, hence those registrants were assigned a “legacy birth date.” The legacy birthdate was 1901.
“The Republican Party has challenged several registered voters and those voters will be sent and address confirmation as directed by the Texas Election Code,” the email said.