County Commissioners were informed Wednesday about something that several of them have known all along -- there is voter fraud happening in Nueces County.

The problem exists specifically when it comes to mail-in ballots.

"We do have a problem here. Election fraud is real in Nueces County," Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands said. "This is not a victimless crime. It affects several people and we do have investigations. I also suspect that there will be new investigations to the rest of the November 2017 election and the runoff."

Sands helped get legislation passed and a state law enacted that put in place tougher penalties for people found guilty of committing election fraud.

Commissioners heard from several elected officials from the Robstown area Wednesday who said they know the crime happens every time there's an election there.

"What about this so-called political machine that exists in Robstown? This is an organized group that is, in farmers' terms, cultivating and harvesting votes in large quantities," said Judge Hermino Pena, Jr., Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5, Place 2.

Pena has served the Robstown area for 24 years and told commissioners that he has been approached in the past, once being offered 250 votes in his favor for $1,000.

"I think more and more people are becoming aware of it and they're wanting to put a stop to it," retired Robstown Police Officer Gilbert Gomez said. "In other words, what people are asking for is they want fair elections."

The message left with commissioners is two-fold -- one, to get their support to crack down on the problem; and two, to send a message to those who commit the crime.

"Leave these people to cast their ballots for the candidates they wish to vote for, and don't violate their privileges, because if you do you might get caught and you will regret it," Pena said.

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