The attorney representing Tyron Davis, a Democratic candidate for Pct. 3 Constable charged recently with violating the Texas Election Code, is speaking out on Davis’ behalf.
Theresa Peel issued a press release Wednesday after Davis was arrested on a misdemeanor charge Monday, saying her client thought he was performing a community service when he went to Renfro Healthcare Center to register voters.
Davis has been charged with a misdemeanor for failing to sign mail-in ballot applications by a witness or an assisting applicant. The Ellis District Attorney’s Office conducted the investigation after Ellis County elections administrator Jana Onyon alerted officials, according to a previous article.
On April 28, Onyon contacted Chief Investigator Jeff Ward of the Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office and reported that two men wearing some type of official seals on their shirts had contacted her at her office and requested to see Davis’ campaign finance reports on April 27, according to the probable cause affidavit.
“Onyon went on to report that on the same day when the staff got ready to process the mail for the day, they came across 18 mail ballot applications and 15 voter registration applications all having similarities,” Ward stated in the affidavit. “Onyon reported that the problem with the applications is that all 18 mail ballot applications were blank in the box 11a section, which is where an assistant/witness must sign if they help the voter fill out the application.”
The affidavit stated Onyon reported that this is a violation of Election Code Section 84.003, which is a Class A misdemeanor if the assistant did not fill out the section. Ward obtained verbal consent from Onyon and took the forms as evidence.
According to Peel, a former Renfro employee contacted Davis, suggesting that several residents were unable to vote in the election because they were not registered to vote, asking for Davis’ help. Renfro provided all of the names, dates of birth, and identification numbers to Davis and asked Davis to visit the residents and get the resident signatures, Peel’s release stated.
“Davis provided voter registration applications and assisted the Renfro residents in completing the applications. The voter registration form is only used to register to vote. Basic information is provided: name, address, date of birth, gender, identification number, and signature of applicant,” Peel’s release stated. “The applications have no place for anyone other than the applicant to sign. Additionally, some of the residents requested mail-in ballot applications, which Davis provided. It was on the mail-in application that Davis overlooked the fine print indicating he needed to complete the witness section. At no point during the visit with the residents were there any ballots present. Davis did not mark any ballots for any residents, nor did he offer any incentives to vote for any particular candidates. “
Further investigation by Ward found that 15 of the 18 applications were made at Renfro Healthcare Center on Main Street. Two other applications were for residents living on north Aikin Street. A Renfro administrator helped identify Davis, the affidavit stated.
On April 29, interviews at Renfro were also conducted with the applicants. The people making application for a mail in ballot confirmed they had assistance and most identified Davis as the person who assisted them. Several people interviewed did not know what they were signing, the affidavit stated. The residents on Aikin Street and the resident on Ross Street reported the same.
“I am thankful that the staff at the Elections Office is diligent in ensuring the election is conducted in a fair and honest manner,” Davis stated in Peel’s release. “However, I had no intention of committing any voter fraud or committing any other disservice to our community. My only intent was to provide a service to residents of the nursing home who were unable to register to vote without assistance and I apologize if I did not properly complete the mail-in application forms.”