Was a Texas man arrested for filling out 1,700 ballots as Attorney General William Barr claimed in a Sept. 2, 2020, CNN interview? No, that's not true: Barr was misinformed when he made the statement, according to the Department of Justice. While a man in Texas did plead guilty in 2017 to a misdemeanor charge of "method of returning marked ballot," the plea involved a single ballot, not 1,700. And although local prosecutors thought there might be a much larger case of voter fraud, that never came to fruition.
The claim appeared in a Facebook meme (archived here) published on September 17, 2020. The meme read:
"In Texas, we arrested one man who filled out 1,700 ballots. That's what happens with mail-in ballots." - AG Barr
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Sep 22 12:14:47 2020 UTC)
Barr's claim in the CNN interview stems from a 2017 case in which one man in Dallas County, Texas, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of "method of returning marked ballot" after he was caught forging a woman's signature on a single ballot in a municipal election, according to the Dallas Morning News. The case was part of a much larger investigation into as many as 700 mail-in ballots in a Dallas City Council race, according to the Dallas Morning news, but the plea by Miguel Hernandez involved only one ballot. He was sentenced to six months in jail.
According to The Washington Post, when the Justice Department was asked about Barr's claim in the CNN interview, DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement:
Prior to his interview, the Attorney General was provided a memo prepared within the Department that contained an inaccurate summary about the case which he relied upon when using the case as an example.
Lead Stories has reached out to the Department of Justice, and this story will be updated with any response.
Andy Chatham, the assistant district attorney on the 2017 case in Dallas County, said Barr's claim on CNN does not match the facts of the case. Chatham told The Washington Post that he thought Hernandez "was a low-level player in a possibly larger scheme that never came to fruition, and that prosecutors never were able to fully unravel."
The Post reported that Mike Snipes, the No. 2 prosecutor in the office in 2107, said investigators initially suspected there were "potentially 1,700 fraudulent ballots, but we did not uncover that, at all."