The swirling force of Texas politics

Medrano Family Member Accused of Illegal Voting

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Monday, Mar 28, 2011  |  Updated 8:00 PM CDT
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<a title=Raquel Medrano, 22, is accused of illegal voting, for casting a ballot in a race involving a relative when she did not live in the area." />

Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com

Raquel Medrano, 22, is accused of illegal voting, for casting a ballot in a race involving a relative when she did not live in the area.

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A young member of a well-connected family in Dallas County politics is accused of illegal voting.

Raquel Medrano, 22, is indicted with illegal voting, according to an indictment released Monday by the Texas attorney general’s office.

She is accused of casting an early ballot in a justice of the peace election in an area where she does not live.

Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Carlos Medrano took office in January after defeating incumbent Luis Sepulveda by only about 150 votes.

Sepulveda won the Election Day vote but accused Medrano of tilting the election with suspicious early ballots for the victory.

Sepulveda unsuccessfully sued to reverse the results last year.

"There’s been quite a few people to testify of the Medrano family and we're just going to have to wait patiently until the A.G. is completely through," he said Monday.

Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott took the investigation to a Rockwall County grand jury after claims that Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins was dragging his feet in handling allegations of widespread voter fraud.

"To me, what's highly unusual is that it's being handled by the attorney general and in a different county," Clark Birdsall said. "That is unusual. I don’t think that's ever happened."

Birdsall, a former public integrity prosecutor, once handled similar cases for the prior Dallas County district attorney.

Sepulveda testified Monday at the state Capitol, where lawmakers are considering changes in Texas election law.

"Put people in jail," he said. "Put them away for going out and going after these voter frauds."

One plan to require voter identification at polling places could help prosecutors combat fraud, Birdsall said.

"It's a lot easier to get a handle on it if somebody can actually look at an ID and make sure they're who they say they are," he said.

Public records show that Raquel Medrano lives in Mesquite, many miles away from Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas.

Messages left at the door of that address and at the telephone number in her arrest report were not returned Monday.

She turned herself in at the Rockwall County Jail on Thursday and was released on a $10,000 bond.

The chief clerk in Justice of the Peace Carlos Medrano’s office said to call his Austin attorney, Randall Wood. Wood also did not return a message Monday.

The claim about Raquel Medrano is one of many accusations sent to the attorney general from Dallas County last year.

Sepulveda raised other claims, and former Dallas County Judge Jim Foster also made accusations about fraud in the election he lost.

A source in Rockwall County close to the investigation said the attorney general's work is not finished.

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