For the purpose of voter registration in Texas, what is the definition of “residence”? Should your residence be determined by the Government or by you? Is length of time a factor of residency? Does bodily presence alone determine residence? Does intention alone determine residence? I have reasonable doubt that Jim Jenkins “knowingly” violated Texas law prior to voting in the 2010 Woodlands Road Utility District election and by the end of this article, I hope you also have reasonable doubts.
Jim Jenkins and Adrian Heath embarked on a journey to learn the definition of “residence” and “residency” in the context of voter registration in Texas. That journey ultimately led to the Secretary of State for The State of Texas and discovery of well settled law in Texas, as noted in election law opinion advisory GSC-1.
Why did Heath contact the Texas Secretary of State office and not the Office of the Attorney General of Texas? According to the Secretary of State website “The Secretary of State is the chief election officer for the State of Texas.”
In GSC-1, Geoffrey S. O’Connor and the Opinion Committee members addressed the following questions (emphasis mine) in the context of voter registration and “residency” of college students. Some questions are taken directly from the election law advisory opinion and some I re-phrased into layman’s terms:
Question: “What is the proper interpretation and application of Section 1.015 of the Code in the context of voter registration by and “residency” of college students, in particular, those students currently attending Prairie View A&M University?”
Short Answer: “The definition of residence for the purpose of voter registration is well settled in Texas. As stated in the seminal case of Mills v. Bartlett, 377 S.W.2d 636,637 (Tex.1964). “[n]either bodily presence along not intention alone will suffice to create the residence, but when the two coincide at that moment the residence is fixed and determined. There is no specific length of time for the bodily presence to continue.”
Question: Can The State of Texas require a voter to state that he or she will be residing in a location for a stated number of months or years in the future?
Answer: In Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 92 S.Ct 995, 31 L.Ed2d 274 (1972), the Supreme Court held unconstitutional Tennessee’s one-year durational residency requirement because such requirements penalize persons who travel from one place to another to establish a new residence during the qualifying period, and thus deny a portion of the citizenry their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
It is our opinion that any state requiring a voter to state that he or she will be residing in a location for a stated number of months or years in the future would face a similar challenge.
An applicant filling out a Texas voter registration form is not required to state that the residence will be his or her home forever, or for the next five years, or even the next year.
Question: For what reason is an applicant to vote required to submit their application 30 days before the election in which the applicant chooses to vote?
Answer: The applicant is only required for administrative reasons to submit the application 30 days before the election in which the applicant wishes to vote. See TEX. ELEC. CODE ANN. § 13.143 (Vernon 2003).
According to this article published in the Conroe Courier, “ James Alan Jenkins was sentenced to three years in the state prison system for illegally voting in an election in 2010….and was found guilty of voter fraud.
These public accounts describing voter fraud efforts in Virginia explain ‘voter fraud” as forging a utility bill (to be used as an identity document) and voting twice as was exposed in an OFA office in Houston. Did Jim Jenkins forge identity documents to impersonate another individual? Did Jim Jenkins vote twice?
I have my doubts and I hope you do too.
If you don’t like the law, change the law in the Texas Legislature. Convicting an innocent man of a felony and sentencing him to three years in prison is a miscarriage of justice.