‘”‘1114SRIA,. A allow the members of the military to vote for state, city, and county elections where they reside, and you will have true local elections in Val Verde County. For the TRLA, filing Casarez v. Val Verde County was a risky move: the case was politically sensitive and in the past few years the Republican Congress has put a stranglehold on federallyfunded legal aid agencies. Even after he took the case, Korbel was hoping to find a private lawyer to take over, and although Congress barred legal aid agencies from accepting attorney’s fees last April, he inserted a conditional request for fees into the pleadings, on behalf of such private counsel as might step in. One day before the January hearing, as TRLA offices awaited notice that their funding would be cut because of the lawsuit, civil rights attorney David Richards agreed to take over. In the meantime, Korbel had sent long interrogatories to the FPCA voters, asking questions about where they owned homes or other property, where they had bank accounts and insurance, when they had last been in Del Rio, or where they’d last voted. And TRLA staff started looking at the registers of postcard applications in the Val Verde County Clerk’s office. Using estimates based on the 74 percent of applications in which the “last date of residency” had been filled out, TRLA determined that approximately 457 of the FPCA voters had last resided in Val Verde more than four years Lou Dubose ago-203 of those more than ten years ago. Interrogatories started to come back, and some of the military voters contacted Korbel in person with questions. As the picture became clearer, no single “typical voter” emergeda number of them have claimed Texas as their state of residence to avoid paying state income tax, but others live in no-tax states such as Nevada. Some have voted for years in Val Verde county, but many began voting in 1992 or 1996, after they had already been absent from the county for years. One military officer and his wife live in Texas and were never stationed at Laughlinbut they honeymooned in Val Verde twenty-six years ago. Of the dozen FPCA voters we contacted, one was adamant in his defense of his right to vote in all Val Verde elections, but the others were less certain. “I completely understand” the basis for the lawsuit, one FPCA voter, Gary Walker, told the Observer over the phone. “I don’t know if you should be allowed to [vote in local races] or not, unless you have relatives still there.” Another voter, Paul McVinney \(who noted he had not cast his vote for any of the residence, but after many years in Virginia he thought he might switch: “It’s a calculus you have to make based on all these various factorsthey may or may not declare you a resident.” Two days after the hearing Biery issued his temporary injunc FEBRUARY 14, 1997 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER
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