Democratic precinct chairwoman candidate indicted in voter fraud case in Fort Worth

FORT WORTH -- A Democratic precinct chairwoman candidate has been indicted on suspicion of conspiring to arrange an illegal vote last year.

Hazel Woodard James, 40, is accused of arranging for her son -- who was not a registered voter -- to vote on behalf of his father. The incident reportedly came to light when the father showed up later in the day to vote in the same precinct, 1211, for which James is now running to be chairwoman.

Prosecutor David Lobingier said the indictment is the first case of election fraud in recent memory in Tarrant County.

"We want to ensure that our vote is sacred," he said. "We don't want people voting who are not entitled to vote. It should be sacrosanct."

Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Maxwell is James' attorney but indicated that he will step aside. He declined to comment on the complaint.

"It's very unusual," Maxwell said. "This is more about an internal dispute going on in this precinct. I wouldn't want to get into the politics of it."

Current Precinct 1211 Chairwoman Regina Blair, however, disputed the suggestion that the matter is an internal dispute. But she did say tensions had been high between her and James for some time.

"This is not precinct politics," she said. "This is a criminal offense."

Blair is not seeking re-election. James' opponent in the July 31 chairwoman race is Rosie Williams.