A north Texas school district has been exposed for using manipulative targeting tactics for its May bond election, according to a recent open records request.
The documents reveal Coppell ISD used a tactic known as “rolling polling” to target district staff and other bond supporters in order to help pass its $250 million debt proposition. The measure – which doubled the district’s total debt and increased property taxes – narrowly passed in May with just 50.3% of voter support (22 vote margin).
Documents obtained by the Texas Scorecard show the district spent over $50,000 to execute the shameful targeting scheme, a cost seven times higher than if they had used traditional polling locations.
“Rolling polling” – a practice whereby governments shuffle polling locations and change hours during early voting – was first exposed by the Texas Scorecard back in 2014 using public information collected by citizens associated with the Frisco Tea Party.
As a result, legislation was filed by State Rep. Patrick Fallon (R-Little Elm) to ban the nefarious practice. Unfortunately, the version that passed (HB 2027) was first watered down in the Senate with an amendment offered by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-Fort Worth). It exempted certain May elections – where most bond proposals and tax increases are placed before voters – applying the outright ban only to other uniform election dates. Neither version addressed special elections.
Regardless, Highland Park ISD still used mobile voting during Friday night football games the following November in order to help narrowly pass their $360 million bond – the largest in district history – in apparent violation of state law.
This year, school districts such as Frisco, Lovejoy, Midland and others across Texas are proposing huge property tax increases (i.e. TREs). Not only that, they’re skirting the ban by utilizing special elections—where voter turnout is at its lowest level.
This ensures a higher percentage of participating voters will be district employees and supporters, relegating average taxpayers and other likely opponents to the voting minority.
The scales are further tipped in local governments’ favor when school boards employ rolling polling to target supporters and discourage general turnout.
Local politicians enjoy blindly chanting the “local control” mantra – so long as the state allows them to waste taxpayer money manipulating the outcome. With more than half of registered lobbyists representing local governments, expect localities to waste tens of millions more of Texans’ tax dollars lobbying against pro-taxpayer reforms during the 2017 legislative session.