May 30th, 2008
06:20 PM ET

Is the FLDS voting for payback?

Ismael Estrada and David Mattingly
AC360° Producer and Correspondent

ELDORADO, Texas - Schleicher County, Texas is the kind of small community where everyone knows your name. This tiny town has two traffic lights and gas stations, a few restaurants, a small, local weekly paper and now - possibly hundreds of new voters.

A few years ago, when the FLDS polygamist sect set up camp on their new 1,700-acre property, they told local officials they wanted nothing to do with local government. They say they just wanted to stay to themselves in their secluded YFZ ranch, where they were building massive homes and a temple as more FLDS members moved in.

But their promise to stay out of local government has changed since Texas authorities raided their property on April 3.

FLDS members are now grabbing up voter registration forms in hopes of sending hundreds of new voters to the polls. That's a concern for local residents here in Schleicher County where there are only 1,900 registered voters.

“This is the only thing the only thing you have to stop what’s happening going forward” said Willie Jessop, an FLDS member and spokesman.

Jessop says they're no longer going to sit back and avoid taking part in local government.

“The only chance we have that has been given to us by our founding fathers, is to vote,” exclaimed Jessop.

Since the polygamous sect members headed to the local county election registrar last week, rumors have been swirling about what their intentions may be. It’s the main topic for conversation at Rosa’s Casita restaurant.

“I think it’s very much a concern,” said Carolyn Mittel, a local resident. "“I think most everyone in town would be very concerned about it.”

Another resident, Joe Kotsch believes those new voters could swing an election: “They have so may new people out there, they could out power people who vote here.”

One man who is up for re-election this November is local sheriff, David Doran. He won his last election by less than 500 votes. His department helped gain access to the YFZ ranch during the raid that has become the focus of the FLDS - which feels they were slighted by the sheriff.

“Once you violate that public trust, the only recourse you have is to have them removed from public office,” said Jessop.

It’s a concern for Sheriff Doran who says hundreds of new voters could certainly swing an election.

“If we had a mass registration out of retaliation purposes," Doran said. "That concerns me that there could be a different factor coming in messing with the election.”

Of bigger concern to local residents is how far the FLDS would be willing to go.

When asked if they planned to have FLDS members as write-in candidates for local elections in the future, Jessop responded, "We are not ruling out any possibilities.”

Filed under: David Mattingly • FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Marg

    Anderson would you please asks the panel, why would Hillary help Obama get the DNC base that she already have? She has the blue collar voter's, Hispanic's and Women. Also, would you asks them if it make sense to give up her base and go to work for him?

    June 1, 2008 at 7:20 pm |
  2. MJ in AZ

    It's funny how everyone paints the lawas villains until something happens then you sue for them not doing something in advance. Do you really think they would make such a move just to say sorryand send them back. I say go visit the ranch and see what things are like, if they let you. See no evil, hear no evil. That should be the new American slogan. Ask yourself with so many secrets what are you hiding.

    May 31, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  3. Tippy

    They might have the DNA, now but it was obtain by an illigal arrest
    and I bet they will demand the return of all photo's and DNA.

    Remember the fruit of the posion tree read the SCOUS decision all
    evidence taken as result is posioned

    May 31, 2008 at 1:51 am |
  4. Mike in NYC

    Trisha wrote:

    "They don't follow any of our laws to begin with ..."

    That's a sweeping generalization, don't you think?

    They're certainly subject to state power, as this whole episode demonstrates all too clearly.

    "...why should they be allowed to vote, they shouldn't be, the minute they can join the real world, ok let them vote."

    They’re citizens and taxpayers. They can vote as long as they are not convicted felons. Last time I checked, only Warren Jeffs fell into this category.

    The "real world." What a laugh.

    May 30, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  5. steve k from scappoose or

    Side bar to FLDS registering to vote. . . look back to Oregon and Rajneeshpuram . The locals spoke their mind and the "rajneeshees" ended up owning Wasco county for a while in the 80's
    I don't agree with the FLDS way, however, the high courts have spoken, which evidently doesn't mean anything to the good old boys.
    I was stationed in Texas during the 70's "airmen and dogs keep off the grass" days. Those bigots better start breeding voters to control their "way of life"

    May 30, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  6. Trisha

    They dont follow any of our laws to begin with, why should they be allowed to vote, they shouldnt be, the minute they can join the real world, ok let them vote.

    May 30, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  7. Jean V

    Dismantling the child-abuse factory known as FLDS will take time, but it will be done.

    When the DNA evidence starts being analyzed we'll find precisely how many 12, 13 and 14-year-old mothers there were–and the identity of the men who impregnated these manipulated, brainwashed girls.

    These sickos have been playing hide-n-seek with the authorities for years, but DNA won't lie. They have a photo and a file on each child now, and a cheek swab. The truth will out.

    The wheels of law turn slowly, but in the end the human garbage that have been raping and "owning" the girls in the FLDS will be lined up and marched to prison, just like their "prophet", the utterly repulsive and disgusting Jeffs.

    May 30, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  8. Bren from Atlanta

    Let's not also forget that there needs to be an investigation into the allegations of reported "bleeding the beast", welfare fraud–where the celestial brides filed for and received welfare. They want nothing to do with the outside world but they'll take our money?? This is a felony folks.

    May 30, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  9. KarenD

    "Last I heard polygamy is illegal."

    You haven't been reading my posts, have you.

    Technically polygamy is permissable in several states.

    May 30, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  10. Annie Kate

    The FLDS should vote but they should also obey the law. Last I heard polygamy is illegal. I would think this would keep any of the men with multiple wives from running for office – of course Texas will have to charge them first and then get a conviction.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 30, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  11. jes from Canada

    Shame on the Texas authorities for returning those poor children back into the incest pool they were rescued from. Those pictures of W.J. kissing & fondling those young girls was enough to make any intelligence person heart break. Shame on all who tolerate this sick behaviour!!!! That community goes not represent Religion, it promotes child incest & pornography.

    May 30, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  12. Alex

    I, like others, would have to wonder what the motivation would be for members of the FLDS to suddenly want to become involved in civic activities outside of their own community. However, that is not to say that they shouldn't become involved if their motivation is to better the entire community. But be aware, those individuals would now fall under the same requirements and scrutiny as any other public official. That means they would be subjected to following the rules like everbody else in society. In fact, I suspect they'd be watched more closely and would not be immune from criminal prosecutions should they chose the path of unlawful activity. I say to Mr. Jessop and the others in the FLDS, you will be treated fairly. But if you cross the line expect to end up like your notorious leader, Warren Jeffs. I challenge you to prove to the everyone, you folks are law abiding folks like everyone else. I sincerely believe most are. But if you fail in that effort, the shame will be on your backs.

    May 30, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  13. Mike in NYC

    “They have so many new people out there, they could out power people who vote here.”

    Demographics really are destiny.

    Actually, some nice, fat lawsuits would be in order here.

    May 30, 2008 at 8:17 pm |
  14. Cindy

    @ elguapo...Who is discouraging anyone not to vote!? In my comment did I say anything about them not voting or not having the right too? NO...I think they should vote them out of office because they had no right to take their kids. If you read any other comments from me on this blog then you would have known that.

    So stop trying to put your words in my mouth!


    May 30, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  15. elguapo

    It's a free country. According to the constitution they have a right to vote they should exercise is to the fullest. Revenge? So what? People in public office are supposed to be accountable to the voters. This presidential election it looks like the voters are going to stick it to the Republicans because of the Iraq war.

    It is ignorant and hypocritical for people like Cindy to discourage an American their right to vote. It's hard for anyone to not get involved when they take your kids away based on a crank call and the only "evidence" are pictures of a jailed (for the last few years) perpetrator kissing a minor years ago.


    May 30, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  16. Kim

    Cindy –
    How fun-loving would you be if your children were "kidnapped" at gun-point, and held for two months? Now the FLDS are being told that the state was wrong BUT they still have to sign papers to get their own kids back. The FLDS did not ask for this fight. It was brought to them. And since when is VOTING an act of revenge? Good for them. Maybe when someone's else's life is turned upside down, (By loosing their job because they are voted out of office) they can realize how easily one's life can be damaged. If children are being abused, take the abusers and throw he book at them, but what was done here was abuse in its own way. I hope they vote in droves......

    May 30, 2008 at 7:48 pm |
  17. Cindy

    They are definitely voting as payback to hurt the ones who took their kids. They don't even have anything to do with "outsiders" or our government so the fact that they are going to register to vote and then vote when the day comes really shows they are out for revenge! And here I thought that they were a fun loving, harmless cult! HMMM...

    May 30, 2008 at 7:00 pm |