Adrian Heath was recently sentenced to three years in prison and slapped with a $10,000 fine, and he has become an unlikely face for voter fraud in Texas. His sentencing in a Montgomery County court capped a four-year journey that began with Heath’s plan to bring more oversight to a special utility district and ended with Heath a convicted felon. Heath’s interest was in The Woodlands Road Utility District, a 2,400-acre taxing body that weaves through the suburb. The district was collecting taxes to pay off bond debt and Heath wanted a say. He argued that even though his home wasn’t exactly in the district — few residences were — it imposed taxes indirectly on him because he did much of his shopping and dining there. “We learned there was an election pending,” Heath said. “Three seats open. So we said, ‘Why don’t we just get some people to run for those seats?'” In May 2010, Heath, along with a handful of his neighbors booked rooms at a Residence Inn inside the Road Utility District.
Heath and his friends claimed residency inside the district despite staying only one or two nights at the hotel. They did so to elect three of their colleagues and take over the district.
Heath’s argument was the way he read Texas’ voting law, which defines “residence” as a place “to which one intends to return after any temporary absence” and leaves “intent” of residency up to the voter.
Heath’s friends won the election, but their victory was short-lived. The district’s incumbents soon got their seats back after a judge overturned the election.
And then Attorney General Greg Abbott, now running for Texas governor, charged Heath and his friends with illegal voting, a third-degree felony charge.