Dirty Tricks: The Residency Game

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Jay Harris is the Republican Precinct Chair of Precinct 4006 in Denton County. However, Mr. Harris doesn’t actually live in Precinct 4006.

Harris owns a property in 4006, where he is also registered to vote, but he actually lives in Precinct 1015. Precinct Chair is not a government position, and is certainly low on the totem pole of party officials, but the precinct chair is supposed to represent their neighbors in the area where they live.

Why should Jay Harris “represent” his precinct, when he lives on the other side of the city?

How do you define where someone lives? At first, it may seem like a gray area. Section 1.015 of the Election Code defines residence as “one’s home and fixed place of habitation to which one intends to return after any temporary absence.” This definition leaves the question somewhat open to interpretation.

In the case of Harris, the evidence makes the answer clear. He used false information on his application for Precinct Chair. On it, Harris lists his address as 900 Bluebonnet Place in Denton, TX and his current voter registration lists that address as well. However, all other documentation Direct Action Texas found on Harris lists 2221 Hollyhill Lane as his actual residence.

First of all, Harris’s driver license lists his address on Hollyhill. The car registrations in his name all list the Hollyhill address as well. Even his homestead exemption is on 2221 Hollyhill, not 900 Bluebonnet. Homestead exemptions are limited to “the individual’s principal residence” in Section 11.13 of the Tax Code.

Finally, Harris’s wife, Nancy, is registered to vote at 2221 Hollyhill along with his daughter, Jennifer. Jennifer Harris is in fact Precinct Chair for that precinct. That fact begs the question, did Jay Harris register at the other address so he and his daughter could both hold office, a claim he has made verbally to members of the party?

If Harris does in fact live at 900 Bluebonnet, his driver license is invalid and he is currently lying to the Denton County Tax-Assessor’s office about the location of his homestead. It would also mean that he lives separately from his wife and family. On the other hand, if he lives at 2221 Hollyhill, as all the evidence suggests, he is lying to the Republican Party. Which is it? Where does Jay Wayne Harris actually live? Either way, his credibility is certainly in question.

Harris isn’t the first to use residency tricks for political advantage. In 2010, The Medrano family brought their version of the residency game into the limelight in Dallas when Carlos Medrano illegally solicited the vote of his niece. She illegally registered at his home so she could vote in his race. That same year, at least four people illegally voted from a hotel in Montgomery County, just north of Houston to influence a Road Utility District Board vote. Countless others have been accused of illegally registering to vote or not living in the district they represent.

One thing DAT has learned over the last few years is Jay Harris will likely get away with this deception because, in Texas, there is no law enforcement agency willing to take these cases on. That is a problem for election integrity everywhere.

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