The FBI has launched an investigation into local campaign practices in Texas, amid evidence that paid campaign workers routinely give residents cash, drugs, beer, and cigarettes in exchange for their votes.
While nearly all local campaigns in South Texas have long relied on paid "politiqueras" to help deliver votes using their personal networks, evidence has emerged that some during the 2012 primary and general elections were buying votes, according to The New York Times
Three women working as politiqueras in the town of Donna were arrested by the FBI in December and accused of vote-buying, and a school board member who won re-election in 2012 committed suicide, though it is unclear whether he was a focus of the investigation.
According to information from the FBI in court documents, the politiqueras who were arrested say they were directed by candidates and their campaign managers to pay residents for their votes, though no candidate has been arrested.
"People are asking to get paid because they already know," said one unnamed source, according to the Times. "People look forward to it. You have to understand the poverty. So if they can make an extra buck, they're going to make an extra buck."
Politiqueras have also been accused of various forms of voter fraud over the years, including stealing absentee ballots of elderly and disabled voters and voting more than once using forged mail-in ballots.
Some say that while there are some politiqueras who are honest, the most recent developments may put an end to their role in elections.
"There are good ones that really are sincere and try to really help, but the majority of them are leeches," Donna Mayor David Simmons told the Times.
"Now, we don't have to hire them anymore. People are not going to trust them. I think it's going to do away with them. You're not going to see them in this next election."
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