Attorney General Jim Hood, who is from Benton County, said he believes vote-buying has been a problem in the area for years, impeding voters’ right to fair elections.
“It’s kind of an accepted practice,” he said.
Farese disagrees with Hood.
“It has never been an accepted practice,” he said. “And if it did happen, I don’t believe it kept people from having a fair election in Benton County. If every single allegation is proven, it wouldn’t have changed any of the elections.”
Hood also said these cases may draw out others potentially involved in voter fraud.
“I’m sure that there were others, and perhaps some of these defendants can point us to others later on,” he said.
All 16 defendants are scheduled to be arraigned in Benton County Circuit Court on March 17.