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Fri Jul 1, 2022, 06:25 PM

Voter fraud claims are heating up a battle for political control in an oil-rich Texas county

One of the worst-kept secrets in Loving County sits along the shoulder of a desolate stretch of state highway in the heart of the Permian Basin.

Its a sprawling ranch with a sunbaked adobe home that the Pecos River flooded out years ago, nestled near a trailer and a mobile home on stilts, all behind a padlocked gate.

Eleven people are registered to vote at this address. One of them is Loving County Commissioner Ysidro Renteria, who has been in office since 2011 and listed this property in December as his permanent address on his application to run for re-election, signed under oath. He and at least three relatives used the address to vote in the March primaries.

The secret?

No one lives there, Loving County Sheriff Chris Busse, who also serves as the registrar of voters, said in May. I can attest that Ive been here since 2008 and there has never, ever, ever been any of the Renterias not even Ysidro occupying it.

The old Renteria farmhouse is hardly the only open secret in this county, the least populated in the continental U.S. Voter registration has been suspiciously high for generations, driven by bitter feuds among a handful of prominent families fighting for control of the local government. The voter registration roll is 97 people long, according to the Texas secretary of state, but the U.S. Census Bureau estimates only 57 people live here.

Elections often come down to tiny margins, but the stakes are high: Winners are awarded sway over an outsized budget. This roughly 670-square-mile patch of desert sits atop some of the richest oil and gas reserves in the U.S., generating a tax base that has hovered around $7 billion to $9 billion. Salaries for top elected officials are in the six figures. They steer an annual budget of more than $28 million.


Texas, continuing its race to the bottom. Bet they are all RepubliQans

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