The decision by two Yuma County businessmen to gather evidence last year of long-suspected ballot harvesting practices in the San Luis area has drawn national attention to their efforts.
David Lara and Gary Garcia Snyder utilized hidden cameras to record suspected ballot harvesting incidents at two San Luis polling stations during the August 2020 primary election. They have been interviewed several times in the last few weeks about their efforts which resulted in the criminal indictment of two local women.
Those women, Guillermina Fuentes and Alma Yadira Juarez, stand charged by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office with felony ballot abuse and have until July 1 to accept a plea deal or stand trial later this year. Fuentes is a member of the Gadsden Elementary School District board in San Luis, a city of 33,000 in the southwest corner of Arizona on the Mexico border.
According to Lara and Snyder, most people think of ballot harvesting as dropping an early voting ballot in a closed envelope in the mail or at a polling station on behalf of a friend, family member, or coworker.
But they say the type of criminal illegal election misconduct happening in Yuma County, particularly in the San Luis area, involves voters being deceived into giving their blank ballot and signed early ballot affidavit envelope to someone else. Usually someone in a respected community position.
The ballot is then filled out and harvested -dropped off- without the voter’s input. And because the early ballot affidavit was signed by the real voter, election officials have no way of knowing someone else filled out the voter’s ballot.
“They’ve actually tricked the community in believing they’re doing the right thing, they’re voting, they’re participating, yet they’re not really informing the community that they’re being lied to, used, and manipulated,” Lara said. “San Luis is ground zero as far as voter fraud. That’s where it started in 1997. It has spread through the state, and it was perfected in San Luis.”
Which is why Lara and Snyder made plans last summer to try to secure evidence of what happened in their community on Aug. 4, 2020, otherwise known as primary day. They utilized video cameras at two polling stations where before long they obtained enough evidence to take to the Yuma County Recorder, who informed the local sheriff.
The FBI was notified as well, along with the attorney general’s election integrity unit which is prosecuting Fuentes and Juarez. Snyder says other San Luis residents, have been fingerprinted as part of the investigation.
“Yeah, of course we’re a smaller demographic, less votes, less ballots but one ballot is very important. It’s the integrity of our voting system,” Snyder said in a recent interview.