By Terri Jo Neff |
Victor Manuel Aguirre is charged with one count of False Registration and one count of Illegal Voting related to steps he allegedly took to register to vote and then cast a ballot in the 2020 General Election.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office confirmed to AZ Free News on Friday that a state grand jury indicted a Sahuarita man several weeks ago on two felonies related to illegal voting.
According to the AGO, 46-year-old Aguirre is alleged to have falsely completed a voter registration form on or about Sept. 30, 2020. He is alleged to have noted on the form that he had not been convicted of a felony or that his civil rights had been restored.
However, Aguirre had multiple felony convictions dating back to 1999. Most recently he had convictions for a 2006 criminal trespass, unlawful flight in 2008, unlawful use of means of transportation in 2010, identify theft in 2012, and weapons misconduct in 2017.
Because of the number of Aguirre’s past felonies, he would have had to apply to a superior court judge to have his civil rights restored. But despite that, Aguirre cast a ballot while in the Pima County jail, which would have been legal if he had actually been eligible to vote.
Aguirre’s indictment by a state grand jury on Aug. 2 resulted in a statewide arrest warrant which was served in late September. He paid a $1,000 bond earlier this week to get out of the Pima County jail pending trial and has been ordered to appear before Judge Javier Chon-Lopez for a pre-trial conference on Nov. 17.
The question of whether Aguirre’s voter registration was valid was investigated by Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s Election Integrity Unit. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Todd Lawson. In confirming Aguirre’s indictment, the AGO noted that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The charges against Aguirre are among several pursued in recent months by Brnovich’s election team. Most of the prosecutions have involved one or two low level felonies, although a San Luis woman is charged with four felonies in connection to an alleged conspiracy to collect several early ballots for the August 2020 Primary Election in Yuma County.
Although some critics argue Brnovich should not be pursuing individual voter misconduct, one election integrity advocate says such investigations and prosecutions are critical to maintaining confidence in Arizona’s elections.
“Legitimate voters deserve to know that when they vote their vote counts,” said Merissa Hamilton, of Strong Communities Action. “We need to make it easy to vote but hard to cheat.”
Hamilton added that vigilance is needed to ensure election laws are respected, otherwise it will encourage others to commit election fraud.
“Each and every instance of election fraud serves to raise doubt for voters,” she said. “That is why we can’t ignore the fraud.”
It is a position Attorney General Mark Brnovich agrees with, according to his spokeswoman.
“General Brnovich takes all election related complaints seriously,” said Katie Conner. “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our constitutional republic. We must do everything we can to protect the electoral process.”