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Lawsuit alleges fraud favoring Veronica Escobar during March 6 election

Voting

Three of the candidates who ran for the District 16 Congressional seat have filed a civil lawsuit, claiming the results of the March 6 election were rigged.

Enrique Garcia, John Carrillo and Norma Garcia filed the lawsuit against Democratic candidate Veronica Escobar and El Paso County Elections Administrator Lisa Wise on Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleges that people in the elections office, including Wise, engaged in fraud or illegal conduct of the election code.

According to the lawsuit, the three opponents believe hard drives were tampered with before the election began and then were taken to polling places with high voter turnout to get more votes for Escobar, who led the election with 61.42 percent of the vote. Escobar is now the nominee for the 16th Congressional seat in the November 2018 election.

Enrique Garcia requested to audit the elections department last year to ensure the March 6 election would be accurate, but according to the lawsuit, that request was denied.

Enrique Garcia, who is an attorney, requested 10 days to inspect election records held by the Democratic Party of El Paso, including an audit of hard drives and computers used in the election. A request of all records related to 10 percent of early voting and election day polling places was made.

Escobar and Wise have nine days to hand deliver the information showing there was no fraud in the election.

Norma Chavez posted on her Facebook page that she noticed a discrepancy on Election Day when she went to vote at La Fe Technology Center but alleges records showed she had also voted at Bassett Center.

Chavez said people were reporting the issue to the FBI.

Escobar responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:

Concerns over voter fraud are serious and should be examined. However, it is concerning that there are accusations being made in a lawsuit without any shred of evidence. If these accusations are proven baseless -- as I believe they will be -- my concern is that such an irresponsible act will have unfortunately fed public cynicism against our electoral system and may negatively impact voter turnout in a community that already struggles to get voters to the polls.

Wise responded to the allegations by saying in a statement:

We are aware that three candidates in the March 6, 2018 Primary Election have filed a lawsuit alleging generalized fraud and tampering of voting machine hard drives used in the March 6th Primary Election.
The El Paso County Elections Department, under my leadership, which provided the election services for both the Democratic and Republican Party primaries, takes these allegations very seriously. We are confident that this election was conducted in a secure, safe, legal and ethical fashion and that the votes were accurately recorded and accurately counted. Thus far, we have found no irregularities in the Primary Election results. However, we will fully investigate any evidence brought forward suggesting any kind of election tampering.

Garcia has not responded to a request for comment.

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