YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY/ AP News) - Two Yuma County women are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for their conviction of illegally collecting four early ballots during the 2020 primary election.
Authorities say Guillermina Fuentes and Alma Juarez participated in “ballot harvesting" which is a practice once used by both political parties to boost turnout, but was made illegal by a 2016 state law that barred anyone but a family member or caregiver from returning early ballots for another person.
It’s the only case filed so far by the state attorney general under the law.
Authorities say Fuentes, the former Mayor of San Luis, ran a sophisticated operation using her status as a well-known Democratic operative to persuade voters to let her gather and, in some cases, fill out their ballots.
Fuentes and Juarez each pleaded guilty to a charge of ballot abuse, acknowledging they collected early ballots for people who weren’t family members, didn’t live with them, or weren’t receiving care from them.
Fuentes’ conviction was a felony and she could be sentenced to probation or up to two years in prison, while Juarez’s was a misdemeanor.
Under Juarez’s plea agreement, if she has cooperated as promised she will be sentenced to probation and prosecutors will not seek jail time.
KYMA will follow this story at Yuma County Superior Court on Thursday and will bring updates later on.