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Somebody posing as Beto O’Rourke’s campaign sent texts proposing voter fraud

An “impostor” asked for help transporting undocumented immigrants to vote.

Chris Covatta/Getty Images
Dylan Scott covers health care for Vox. He has reported on health policy for more than 10 years, writing for Governing magazine, Talking Points Memo and STAT before joining Vox in 2017.

“Would you like to commit crimes?” the text message might as well have asked.

In the all-consuming Texas Senate race, Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s campaign has been obligated to deny that its staffers sent messages to Texans asking if they would help to transport undocumented immigrants to polling places so they could vote. To commit voter fraud, in other words.

The New York Times outlined the strange story with the O’Rourke campaign’s denials:

Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign confirmed that the messages were authentic, but a spokesman said they came from an “impostor.”

“That was not an approved message by the campaign,” said Chris Evans, a spokesman for Mr. O’Rourke. Mr. Evans added that the campaign was looking into how the unauthorized message was sent. The person who sent the text was “not a Beto volunteer,” Mr. Evans said.

Screenshots of the messages circulated on Twitter before the Times wrote up the story.

O’Rourke’s campaign has aggressively used text messaging to reach voters, the Times’s Kevin Roose noted. But what is described in these fraudulent messages — helping nonvoters vote — would obviously be a violation of Texas election laws (or those of any other state). Deliberate and unambiguous voter fraud.

The Times reported that the identity of the person or people sending the messages posing as O’Rourke’s campaign has not been discovered. Obviously, some Democrats have cast suspicious glances toward Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and the Texas GOP.

It is another bizarre turn in one of 2018’s most heavily covered Senate campaigns. O’Rourke is polling within a few points of Cruz on average, and the pages and websites of every major political publication in the country have been overflowing with stories about the young (and handsome) Democratic candidate.

Cruz and Texas Republicans, perhaps caught off guard by such a strong challenge in what was thought to still be a safely red state, have turned to increasingly odd tactics to counter the O’Rourke momentum.

The Cruz campaign started by mocking the white Beto for taking a more Latinized version of his real first name, Robert (O’Rourke says he’s had the nickname since he was a baby). The Texas GOP then sent out a string of tweets mocking O’Rourke’s past as a rock musician and a once-convicted drunk driver.

Now somebody out there has decided to pose as O’Rourke staffers to propose perpetrating blatant voter fraud. Even the stupid political hackery is bigger in Texas.

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