Fascinating story out of Montgomery County in which a handful of self-styled activists in Montgomery County attempt to register to vote in a Road Utility District (RUD), a taxing entity that has literally almost no voters, and wind up getting arrested on felony voter fraud charges.
In May 2010, [Adrian] Heath, along with nine of his fellow suburban neighbors from in and around The Woodlands, gathered at a Residence Inn hotel inside the confines of the Woodlands Road Utility District, a 2,475-acre taxing body that is connected to The Woodlands by a coalition of developers, lawyers and well-to-do local insiders. The group included a retiree, a homemaker, a tile contractor, a salesman and an oil-equipment technician.
Heath and his friends claimed residency inside the district despite staying only two nights at the hotel. They did so to elect three of their colleagues in order to usurp the incumbent balance of power in the district. They believed the district was running up public debt and wanted to stop that.
Heath and his colleagues figured they were standing up for their rights, hoping to be part of a system that was imposing taxes indirectly on them in a commercial area in which they did much of their shopping and dining. And they were certain that their group was working within the very blurry lines of state law regarding residency and voting.
The law they followed says that the voter residency requirement can be determined “by the voter,” as Randall Dillard, a spokesman for the Texas Secretary of State’s office, stated in February 2010.
Dillard’s statement was repeated like a mantra among Heath and his pals in the weeks leading up to the election. They succeeded in getting their own candidates in office by changing their voting registration residences in April 2010.
But as in a scene gone wrong in a caper movie, in June 2010, a district judge ruled the election and the group’s part in it invalid and tossed the results.
That might have been the end of it, with a few malcontented wiseasses fruitlessly trying to prove a point.
Instead, as it turned out, the troublemakers had picked a very bad time to make their stand.
Read the whole thing, it’s really something. I had no idea there was such a thing as a RUD, and while I don’t know enough about these guys’ claim that this particular RUD was being financially mismanaged, there’s no question that the setup of it is highly suspicious, and I can see why they took the action they did. Their argument is that they’re being targeted, partly in retaliation by Montgomery County officials such as now-former Sen. Tommy Williams for being a general pain in the rear, and partly by Attorney General Greg Abbott, who wanted to prove that he does too go after “vote fraud” committed by people who aren’t minority Democrats. I couldn’t help but think about the Dave Wilson affair as I read this, but these guys pushed the envelope even farther than Wilson did. I hope they appeal their conviction, if only to eventually provide further clarification about what our state laws about residency for electoral purposes really mean. Check it out.