Former Arizona Democrat Politician Sentenced For Ballot Harvesting Crimes In 2020 Election

A Democratic election operative in Arizona was sentenced to jail last week after being convicted on charges of illegal ballot harvesting during the 2020 primary election in the Grand Canyon State.

Guillermina Fuentes, 66, is a school board member and former mayor of San Luis, a small Arizona town near the Mexican border. She pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges pending against her, admitting that she illegally collected four early voting ballots for the 2020 primary.

She was ordered last Thursday to serve a sentence of 30 days in the county jail and two years of probation after her release.

As part of her plea agreement, state prosecutors dropped three felony charges against Fuentes. Those charges were based on allegations that the defendant filled out one voter’s ballot illegally and forged signatures on at least some of the ballots she illegally returned.

At her sentencing hearing, prosecutors asked the judge to impose a sentence of 11 months, 29 days. Defense attorneys for Fuentes countered by asking for probation only.

Fuentes reportedly collected the four illegally submitted ballots from people she knew in San Luis. She then turned them over to co-defendant Alma Juarez while she was campaigning outside a polling place for a slate of Democratic Party candidates. Juarez took the ballots inside the polling place and placed them in a drop-off container.

Yuma County election officials determined on Election Day that the ballots were legally signed by voters on the registration rolls, and the votes were counted.

Yuma County Superior Court Judge Roger Nelson imposed the sentence and reportedly said he would have considered going easier on Fuentes if she had shown some responsibility at her sentencing hearing. However, Fuentes reportedly said to the judge: “I’m not a criminal.”

Nelson responded by telling Fuentes, “Well, you are a criminal.” He said he had a problem with her failure to recognize that fact and the impact of her previous guilty plea.

The judge observed that people “voting for others, taking their ballots” has been an issue for a long time. He pointed out that Fuentes was aware of the law prohibiting her criminal acts at the time she committed them.

Nelson added that Fuentes has been a community leader for a long time. He said, “People look up to you, people respect you, and they look to what you do.”

After the sentencing hearing, Fuentes’ attorney, Anne Chapman, offered sharp criticism of the sentence imposed. She said, “The Court’s sentence today is an unjust result in a political prosecution where the only alleged harm was the delivery of four lawfully voted ballots.”