An ex-Democratic mayor in Arizona is facing criminal charges after admitting to stealing ballots from the 2020 primary.
Guillermina Fuentes, a prominent local Democrat operative and former mayor of San Luis, Arizona, entered a guilty plea to felony vote harvesting this month after being accused in December 2020. Alma Juarez, another Democratic operative who had been charged at the time, entered a guilty plea in March of this year.
Voter ballots are gathered and submitted on behalf of voters by political operatives in a process known as ballot harvesting. 2016 saw the formal prohibition of ballot harvesting in Arizona.
Fuentes will now be sentenced on September 1. The prosecution is asking the judge to sentence the defendant to one year in jail. Fuentes might receive a sentence of two years in jail in the worst case scenario.
Authorities charged Fuentes with compiling and completing voter ballots as part of the plan. Prosecutors claim that in certain instances Fuentes bribed voters to allow her to collect their votes.
The most severe accusations, that Fuentes filled out one voter’s ballot and improperly returned four ballots for others who were not family members, were dropped when the prosecution failed to establish three felony counts against her.
According to investigators’ findings, Fuentes may have used her influence in the mainly Mexican-American neighborhood to persuade voters to surrender her or others their ballots so they could vote again. On the day of the 2020 primary election, Fuentes and her co-defendant were spotted outside a cultural facility in San Luis with a number of mail-in envelopes, according to the reports. The ballots were brought within and deposited in a box.
As a result of her guilty plea, Fuentes will be removed from her elected position as a member of the Gadsden Elementary School Board.