in Houston, Texas
Judge sides with Woodlands Road Utility District incumbents; voters registered to Residence Inn appeal
Monday, Jun 14, 2010, 03:45PM CST
By Steve Miller
vote

A judge ruled today against 10 individuals who changed their residence in order to vote in a local utility district election in The Woodlands.

 

District Judge P.K. Reiter said in his finding of fact that the 10 voters falsely declared their residence to be a Residence Inn in the Woodlands Road Utility District.

 

The voters in question changed their residency a little more than a month ahead of the May 8 election for the utility district. The cadre of voters, organized by local activist and Woodlands resident Adrian Heath, said they were concerned over the utility district’s ability to tax and issue debt without enough transparency.

 

As a result, Richard McDuffee, Peter Goeddertz and Bill Berntsen won the district’s at-large voting by a 10-2 margin, ousting three incumbent directors, Gene "Ed" Miller, Bill Neill and Winton Davenport.

 

The sitting directors sued the district, claiming the votes were illegal. The ten newly registered voters joined the suit as intervenors.

 

Reiter, a visiting judge, added that the two votes cast by Kate and Dirk Laukien were valid, handing the election to the incumbents. The Laukiens said they voted for the incumbents.

 

The dispute commenced over the first election held in the district since 2000. Mike Page, general counsel for the district, said none had been held because he had not been aware of any voters in the mostly commercial district.

 

But a search of voter records by Heath turned up a number of voters, some registered to businesses as is allowed under the residency provisions of the Texas Election Code.

 

The newcomer voters have appealed the ruling.

 

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

 

 Photo by flickr user hjl, used via a Creative Commons license.

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