Attorney General

A Travis County grand jury declined to indict UT System Regent Wallace Hall on Tuesday on charges of abuse of office, misuse of information and official oppression. However, it took the unusual step of issuing a report condemning Hall and calling for his removal.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Attorney General Ken Paxton said UT System regents do not have the authority to limit information requests Tuesday, in response to an appeal to Paxton by Regent Wallace Hall last month.

“Unless a state or federal law requires otherwise, a court would likely conclude that the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System may not prohibit an individual regent from obtaining access to records in the possession of the University that are necessary to fulfill his duties as a regent,” Paxton wrote, summarizing his statement.

On April 20, Hall sent an appeal to Paxton after Chancellor William McRaven Jr. denied his request for thousands of documents related an admissions investigation by Kroll Associates, Inc. The investigation found that President William Powers Jr. influenced the admission of a handful of students to UT but did not break any official University rules.

McRaven, unanimously backed by the other eight regents, voted to file a brief to the Attorney General’s office last Monday, reacting to Hall’s appeal. The brief contended that the Board could set some limitations on information requests by individual regent and that individual regents are not authorized to appeal to the attorney general in their official capacity, without consent of the Board.

In Paxton's response to Hall’s appeal, he did not require the Board grant Hall access to the documents, but he said access to records is needed for a regent to perform his or her duties.

“While a governmental body may adopt reasonable procedures with regard to the timing, copying, and process for review of records, a ‘governmental body cannot adopt a policy that prevents a member of the body from performing the duties of office,’” Paxton wrote, citing a 1999 Attorney General statement.

UT System chancellor William McRaven, center, and Daniel Sharphorn, general counsel and vice chancellor for the UT System, right, met with the Board of Regents on Monday.
Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System Board of Regents and Chancellor William McRaven sent a letter Monday to Attorney General Ken Paxton arguing that individual regents’ access to records can be subject to limitations in certain situations.

At a specially called meeting Monday morning, eight members of the board voted unanimously to file a brief with the AG’s office outlining the System’s official stance on regent information requests. The ninth regent, Wallace Hall, abstained from the vote.

System counsels filed the brief in response to an appeal Hall’s private attorney filed with Paxton on April 20. Hall’s attorney, Bill Aleshire, asked Paxton to formally provide advice on Hall’s request to review thousands of documents related to UT-Austin admissions and asked whether the Board or the Chancellor had the authority to prohibit Hall from obtaining copies of those records.

Hall is attempting to review the thousands of documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used in an independent investigation earlier this year. The Kroll report found President William Powers Jr. intervened in a handful of admissions cases, but concluded Powers did not violate any policies.

When Hall asked to review the Kroll documents, three regents, including Hall himself, voted to grant him access. Under Regent Rule 19801, “Policy on Transparency, Accountability, and Access to Information,” UT System employees must respond to information requests “without undue delay” if two or more regents vote in support of the request. 

However, McRaven told Hall that Hall’s requests ventured into independent “inquiry and investigation” and therefore would require a majority board vote for approval. In a terse email exchange, McRaven told Hall his requests for information go beyond “any reasonable desire to be better informed as a regent.”

“This current request for information … is detrimental to the overall well-being of the system,” McRaven wrote in an email to Hall. 

The brief filed Monday, which represented McRaven and the Board of Regents’ official position on Hall’s appeal, argued that Hall’s attorney did not have standing to seek formal advice from Paxton in the first place.

“An individual Regent is not authorized to seek an opinion of the Attorney General in his official capacity without the consent of the Board, nor may an individual Regent be represented in his official capacity by private counsel,” System lawyers wrote. “In addition, the Attorney General generally declines fact-finding and answering hypothetical questions, both of which would be required in answering the questions presented.”

Even if Paxton did agree to provide Hall advice, Hall’s requests for the documents should still be denied, according to the brief. System counsel said Regents’ Rules and federal laws exist to regulate individual regents’ access to records, especially when student privacy is a consideration.

“A Regent’s access to information is not ‘unfettered,’” the System counsel wrote. “Given the potential volume of a request for information by an individual member of the Board and the impact on workload priorities, it is inherently reasonable that the Regents’ Rules provide checks and balances.”

In his letter to Paxton, Hall’s attorney argued that Regents do have an unfettered right to agency records. 

“A regent is not a mere figurehead, passive servant of corporate management,” Aleshire wrote. “Other opinions of the Attorney General also demonstrate that a regent’s inherent right of access to the agency records is not subject to judgement of the other board members (or of the Chancellor).” 

After the meeting Monday, Regent Alex Cranberg, who originally voted to grant Hall access to the Kroll records, explained his vote in support of the brief to the AG.

“I certainly feel it’s very important to express the need for individual regents to have [the] capacity to ask hard questions, even as the majority of the board might feel uncomfortable, but I don’t think this response suggests that the regents don’t have that capacity,” Cranberg said. “[I believe the response suggests] merely that there might be some limits placed on what a regent might reasonably ask for.”

UT System Chancellor William McRaven, center, and Daniel Sharphorn, General Counsel and Vice Chancellor for the UT System, right, met with the Board of Regents on Monday morning to discuss Regent Wallace Hall's document request. The board voted to file a brief with the Texas Attorney General's Office regarding the request.

Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (3:34 p.m.): In a brief submitted on behalf of Chancellor William McRaven and the UT System Board of Regents, lawyers for the System asked the Attorney General to dismiss Regent Wallace Hall’s request for advice on Hall's disputed right to request thousands of admissions-related documents.

The nine-page brief comes after a two-hour meeting this morning when the Regents met with the Chancellor and the System’s legal advisers to determine their position on Hall’s request.

In the brief, Daniel Sharphorn, vice chancellor and general counsel for the UT System, and Francie Frederick, general counsel to the Board, argue that Hall did not have standing to seek formal advice from AG Ken Paxton in the first place.

“We respectfully suggest that the Attorney General consider the following...the request is not properly presented for formal advice from the Attorney General,” they wrote. “An individual Regent is not authorized to seek an opinion of the Attorney General in his official capacity without the consent of the Board, nor may an individual Regent be represented in his official capacity by private counsel. In addition, the Attorney General generally declines fact-finding and answering hypothetical questions, both of which would be required in answering the questions presented.”

Even if Paxton did agree to provide Hall advice, Hall’s requests for thousands of documents used in the admissions investigation should still be denied, they wrote.

“A Regent’s access to information is not ‘unfettered,’” Sharphorn and Frederick wrote. “Given the potential volume of a request for information by an individual member of the Board and the impact on workload priorities, it is inherently reasonable that the Regents’ Rules provide checks and balances.”

To read the full brief from Sharphorn and Frederick, scroll to the bottom of the story.

Original story: After more than two hours in executive session, the UT System Board of Regents voted to file a brief with the Texas Attorney General’s Office relating to Regent Wallace Hall's search for documents about UT-Austin admissions. UT System Chancellor William McRaven said the brief will be filed later today but declined to elaborate on its contents. 

Although the brief will address Hall’s appeal to Attorney General Ken Paxton for assistance in obtaining access to thousands of documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used in its independent investigation of UT-Austin admissions practices, board members also declined to address what the brief’s specific focus will be. The board voted to file the brief by a unanimous vote of eight, with Hall abstaining.

After the board reconvened in open session, Regent Alex Cranberg indicated the System brief will likely outline reasons Hall should not be granted the documents.

“I certainly feel it’s very important to express the need for individual regents to have [the] capacity to ask hard questions, even as the majority of the board might feel uncomfortable, but I don’t think this response suggests that the regents don’t have that capacity,” Cranberg said. “[I believe the response suggests] merely that there might be some limits placed on what a regent might reasonably ask for.”

Cranberg also alluded to concerns that some of the documents Hall is requesting might contain personal student information, protected under federal privacy laws.

“If anyone is asking, in effect, for the System to violate federal law, that should not be allowed to occur,” Cranberg said.

Hall began asking for this round of documents in early March, after the Kroll investigation concluded that President William Powers Jr. had exerted influence in the admissions of a handful of students but had not technically broken any rules. The investigation found that administrators at the University and within the UT System held “wildly divergent” attitudes about whether considering relationships between the University and high-ranking officials is an appropriate factor in the holistic review process.

After the results of the investigation were released, McRaven declined to take punitive action, although he said he would like to see admissions policies clarified going forward.

“There are a lot of thing we could do better, but, at the end of the day, no willful misconduct [occurred], and I found no criminal activity, and, therefore, I intend to take no disciplinary action,” McRaven said in February.

When Hall asked for the documents Kroll had used in the investigation, three regents, including Hall himself, voted to allow him access. Under Regent Rule 19801, “Policy on Transparency, Accountability, and Access to Information,” UT System employees must respond to information requests “without undue delay” if two or more regents vote in support of the request.

However, McRaven said Hall’s request fell under the category of “inquiry and investigation,” invoking another policy that would require a majority board vote for approval.

“I have no concerns about giving you information that is consistent with your regental needs to be better informed, i.e. how the admissions process works … that is what the board approved,” McRaven told Hall in a terse email exchange in April. “However, your twelve requests for information lead any reader to believe that you are further investigating the Kroll report, the Fisher litigation, Legislative compliance, all of which are perfectly acceptable for a board, if procedurally the majority of the board wants to undertake these new inquiries...If it is [a new inquiry], I have no problem with that, as long as the majority of the board approves.”

Hall responded by having his lawyer, Bill Aleshire, ask Paxton to address whether the board or the chancellor have the legal authority to prohibit regents from having access to copies of records they believes are necessary to fulfill regential duties.

“Regent Wallace Hall has concerns about corrupted processes at the University of Texas at Austin, most recently regarding student admissions practices,” Aleshire wrote to Paxton. “Other opinions of the Attorney General also demonstrate that a regent’s inherent right of access to [records] is not subject to the judgement of other board members (or of the Chancellor) as to whether they think the regent ‘needs’ that information.”

Read the brief the UT System counsel filed with the Attorney General's office here: 

Brief to Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of UT System Board of Regents and Chancellor William McRaven...

Clockwise from top left, Kallen Dimitroff, government junior and University-wide representative, Mohammed Nabulsi, law student, law school representative and co-author of the resolution, Mukund Rathi, computer science senior and co-author of the resolution and Jonathan Barak Dror, economics sophomore and University-wide representative debate the passing of the divestment resolution at the Student Government meeting Tuesday evening.

Photo Credit: Mariana Gonzalez | Daily Texan Staff

On this week's episode of the Daily Texan NewsCast we discuss the Student Government assembly's vote against a divestment resolution, Wallace Hall's appeal to the Attorney General, the results of an investigation into SAE, traffic changes, and updates on open carry legislation.

UT System Regent Wallace Hall is continuing his investigation into the University’s admission practices.
Photo Credit: Xintong Guo | Daily Texan Staff

UT System Regent Wallace Hall is appealing to the attorney general to review student information, despite UT System Chancellor William McRaven’s admonition that Hall’s requests go “well beyond any reasonable desire to be better informed as a regent.”

In a letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office earlier this week, Hall’s attorney asked Paxton to intervene after McRaven denied Hall access to requested material. Hall is seeking files used in an independent investigation into admission practices at the University.

In early March, Hall asked to be provided with the documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used to review admissions. The results of the investigation, released in February, found that UT President William Powers Jr. had exerted influence in the admission of a handful of students but concluded that no formal rules were broken. 

Three regents voted to support Hall’s requests, but the Chancellor said Hall would not be given the records unless the Board authorized such access by majority vote, according to the letter Hall’s lawyer sent Paxton, first obtained by the Texas Tribune.

“The Chancellor asserted that giving Regent Hall access to the Kroll records constituted reopening the investigation of student admissions practices or involved FERPA-protected records,” the email said. “The Chancellor decided that Regent Hall did not have an ‘educational purpose’ for reviewing the Kroll records that was sufficient in the Chancellor’s opinion.”

In the email, Hall’s lawyer, Bill Aleshire, asked the attorney general to consider two questions: whether the Board of Regents can prohibit a regent from obtaining access to records the regent believes are “necessary to review to fulfill his duties as a regent,” and whether the chancellor can do to the same.

Aleshire invoked Regent Rule 19801, “Policy on Transparency, Accountability, and Access to Information,” which says that UT System employees must respond to requests for information “without undue delay.” 

“For the purpose of a Board vote on this issue, the vote of any two or more Regents in support of the request is sufficient to direct that the request will be filled without delay,” the policy says.

Barbara Holthaus, UT System assistant general counsel, said there is an exception to FERPA rules called the university official exception. Under this exception, anyone employed by the University who needs access to the confidential information to perform a job may have access. 

Holthaus said any University official seeking access must have an educational purpose, and a person’s position or title does not immediately justify a request for confidential student information. 

“In the case of a regent or a chancellor or president, as long as the access they are requiring is pursuant to a legitimate educational purpose and it’s part of their duties, then they can have access to information that is subject to FERPA,” Holthaus said. “What we know under FERPA, though, is the mere fact that you have a position such as a chancellor or a president doesn’t mean that you get access to any information that you need.” 

In another email to Hall, McRaven further attempted to explain why he did not feel Hall’s requests met those criteria.

“I have no concerns about giving you information that is consistent with your regental needs to be better informed, i.e. how the admissions process works … that is what the board approved,” McRaven wrote. “However, your twelve requests for information lead any reader to believe that you are further investigating the Kroll report, the Fisher litigation, Legislative compliance, all of which are perfectly acceptable for a board, if procedurally the majority of the board wants to undertake these new inquiries. I remain willing to meet with you and provide you information as long as that information isn’t part of an additional inquiry. If it is, I have no problem with that, as long as the majority of the board approves.”

Suzanne Bryant, left, and Sarah Goodfriend celebrate after being granted a marriage license Thursday morning at Highland Lounge.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton petitioned the state Supreme Court on Friday to declare a single marriage license issued to one same-sex couple invalid. 

Paxton asked the Supreme Court to act after Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant married Thursday, becoming the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Texas. Hours after the ceremony, the Texas Supreme Court, at Paxton’s request, issued a stay that prevented future same-sex couples in Texas from marrying.

“The rogue actions of Travis County judges do not withstand the scrutiny of law,” Paxton said in a statement Friday. “The same-sex marriage license issued [Thursday] is not valid because it conflicts with the Texas Constitution and state law — the license is therefore void ab initio.”

Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Mongolia) also worked to prevent same-sex marriage licenses from being issued Friday. The two lawmakers filed legislation Friday in the House and Senate that would make the secretary of state the only official who would be allowed to issue marriage licenses. Currently, couples can obtain marriage licenses from individual county clerks’ offices.

Under the proposed legislation, the secretary of state would maintain the right to authorize certain county clerks to continue the issuance of marriage licenses under the secretary’s supervision.

Perry said in a statement Friday that his bill will work to protect marriage as defined in the Texas Constitution: “the union of one man and one woman.”

“Yesterday, Travis County officials acted in direct conflict with the Texas Constitution,” Perry said in a statement. “SB 673 ensures rule of law is maintained and the Texas Constitution is protected.”

Chuck Herring, the couple’s attorney, said state officials’ attempts to alter government procedures for obtaining marriage licenses will not ultimately prevent same-sex marriages.

“It’s obviously punitive and retaliatory and it makes no sense to change the system of government we have in Texas, including local control and local authority,” Herring said. “We all know the U.S. Supreme Court is the court that is going to decide any remaining issues concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriage prohibition.”

Paxton’s filing is without merit and will not effectively void the couple’s marriage, according to Herring.

“We think it is a backdoor attempt to attack the validity of a marriage that has already occurred,” Herring said. “The case is over. The marriage is over and done. Our clients are married and very happy.”

Welcome to The Daily Texan's Election Night Live Blog. Throughout the night, we will provide updates on the biggest statewide and Austin elections.

8:13 p.m. — The Associated Press has called all statewide races for the Republicans, including Patrick in the leiutenant governor's race, State Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, for attorney general, State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, for comptroller, George P. Bush for land commissioner, Sid Miller for agriculture comissioner and Ryan Sitton for railroad commissioner.

8:05 p.m. — The Associated Press has called the senate race for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and the governor election for Abbott. Cornyn leads the senate race with 60 percent of the vote. His opponent, Democrat David Alameel holds 37 percent. For Govenor, Abbott lead Davis 57 to 41 percent.

7:56 p.m. — In other city early voting totals, City Council member Kathie Tovo leads the District 9 race with 50 percent. Fellow City Council member Chris Riley holds 40 percent. The majority early voters in Austin were not in favor of Austin's Proposition 1, which would allocate bond money toward an urban rail line in the city, with 58 percent voting against the proposal.

7:46 p.m. — According to Travis County early voting totals, attorney Steve Adler leads the Austin mayor's race with 39 percent of the vote. City Council member Mike Martinez hold 30 percent of the vote and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole has 15 percent.

"It's a start," Adler said. "We still have a runoff, so we still have a long way go."

7:32 p.m. — With more than 8 percent of precints reported, Republicans have started the night with a strong leads in the major statewide elections. For governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott leads State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Forth Worth with 58 percent of the vote. In the leiutenant governor's race, State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, holds 57 percent and State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, has 40 percent.

6:15 p.m.  With 45 minutes left before the polls close, the line at the on-campus polling location in the Flawn Academic Center is wrapped around the building and more than an hour long in wait time. If you are in the line at 7 p.m., you will be permitted to vote.

Republican candidates hold substantial leads in the major Texas races, according to a statewide poll conducted from Oct. 10 through Sunday.

The lastest online poll conducted by The Texas Tribune and the UT Texas Politics Project showed Attorney General Greg Abbott has a 16-point lead over State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

In June, a previous UT/TT poll showed Abbott with a 12-point lead over Davis. 

The latest Texas Tribune poll surveyed 1,200 registered Texas voters. For the lieutenant governor race, State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, trails State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston by 17 points. In the attorney general race, the U.S. Senate race and land commissioner race, all leads were held by the Republican candidates.

“The substantial leads held by Republicans from the top to the bottom of the ballot suggest that the much-discussed demographic changes in the state are unlikely to translate into an immediate reversal of fortune for the Democratic Party in this election,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project and a co-director of the poll.

Daron Shaw, government professor and poll co-director, said in a statement that the results of these statewide race polls had more to do with political affiliations than race.

“Very few race-specific dynamics exist in these down-ballot statewide races,” Shaw said. “They are really just expressions of the underlying partisanship of the Texas electorate, and that’s not good for Democrats these days.”

State Sen. Wendy Davis, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, speaks during her final debate with Greg Abbott, Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Texas attorney general. 

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

If you have yet to see a television advertisement from the Wendy Davis or Greg Abbott campaign, you are in an unlikely minority. According to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan organization that tracks political TV advertisement spending, $56 million has been spent in Texas statewide elections so far this election cycle. Second to spending in Florida, Texas has seen the highest amount of spending in the nation over the last year.

This is attributable to the large amounts spent so far in the race for governor and two nasty Republican primaries for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Over 45,000 television advertisements have been run in the campaign for governor, totaling $26.3 million. These figures also do not include the money spent on other ubiquitous campaign advertisements such as those pesky yard signs and direct mail.

Political advertising is especially expensive in Texas because of the geography of the state. Texas has 20 media markets, with Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston in the top 10 most expensive media markets in the country. An advertising point (one single ad) in the DFW media market costs roughly $750. While other markets are much less expensive (an Austin point costs roughly $180, and a point in the Rio Grande Valley costs roughly $130), the number of media markets makes running a statewide advertising campaign expensive.

Campaign operatives believe that advertising works. Indeed, recent comments from Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, also indicate she believes her ad buys have been valuable as well. Speaking to the Texas Tribune following a controversial advertisement her campaigned aired about Abbott, her opponent and the current Texas attorney general, Davis said, “What we know from testing this ad with voters is that it is an incredibly effective ad because it drives home the point, a point that we’ve been making throughout this campaign, that Greg Abbott is in this for himself and for his insider friends.” The Abbot campaign in turn strongly condemned the ad.

Good political advertisements are extensions of the overall message campaigns intend to communicate with voters. Davis’ recent ad reflects her characterization of Abbott as an insider looking out for his own benefit, while Abbott’s most recent ad “Governor Obama” reflects his campaign’s message that has mostly ignored Davis and focused on the policies of President Barack Obama.

While public polling has shown the race tightening in the last few weeks, according to the Real Clear Politics average of major polls, Abbott is generally a 9 to 10 point favorite to win the election. It is important to note, however, that polling universes usually only include likely voters and an increase in voter turnout could close or widen the margin dramatically. Both campaigns hope their television ads make up the difference.

Yet despite the millions of dollars spent on advertising and the amount of media attention directed toward analyzing these ads, scholars of political communication have challenged their perceived efficacy. Steven E. Finkel of the University of Pittsburgh found the party identification and racial composition of an electorate could predict a large majority of the votes in an election. Most other scholars conclude that television ads have a marginal effect on a race, possibly swinging the decision 2 to 3 percentage points. In addition, data remains inconclusive on the effect negative advertising has on voter turnout.

So yes, Texas voters may be tired of seeing political advertisements and the ads may not actually change the course of an election, but it should be clear ads will be here to stay. In addition, as people increasingly move from watching content on TV and gravitate toward online viewing platforms like Hulu, Netflix and YouTube, expect more political advertising in between episodes of “Orange is the New Black.” And without a doubt, we are on track to experience one of the most expensive statewide elections in Texas history.

 Soto-Vásquez is a media studies graduate student from El Paso. He is also a member of the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees, which oversees The Daily Texan.

During the decade that Greg Abbott has been Texas’ attorney general, he has encountered a grand total of two cases of voter impersonation. In 2011, in a heroic effort to curb this odious problem of rampant voter fraud, the Texas Legislature passed a bill requiring all Texans to show a photo ID before they’re allowed to exercise their constitutional right to participate in our democracy.

It is considered one of the United States’ most stringent voter ID bills, because only seven forms of photo ID are accepted.  Though in most situations requiring a photo ID, out-of-state drivers’ licenses are permissible, Texas election workers will not be accepting these as a valid form of ID.  And even a “free” election certificate costs money.  It requires people who don’t already have an ID to take time off from work (not always possible) to obtain documents proving their identity and to obtain the actual ID.  It hits our most vulnerable citizens hardest, and that is simply unacceptable.

Naturally, the bill was challenged.  And while U.S. District Judge Nelva Ramos called it out for being a de facto poll tax and ruled that it was an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned that ruling in the interest of “preserving the status quo”.

The problem is that this consistency, this uniformity, that the Fifth Circuit seems so adamant about preserving is one of racial discrimination and voter disenfranchisement. 

Many southern states, including Texas, have an abysmal record concerning voting rights.  We’ve enacted every barrier to voting we could dream up — from poll taxes to literacy tests.  The argument was always that these racist pieces of legislation were necessary to preserve our most hallowed of civic duties: voting.  Though ultimately, these arguments were found by high courts to hold no water, that hasn’t stopped states from continuing to dream up novel methods of disenfranchising voters they’d rather simply stayed home.

Proponents of voter ID make similar such arguments today. The problem, again, is that their arguments hold no water.  Voter ID is a solution to a problem that does not exist.

To begin with, voter fraud is hardly an endemic problem. To the great relief of the Texas public, Attorney General Greg Abbott has been closely monitoring the situation during his term in office. He has encountered two instances in which the voter ID bill would have prevented fraudulent voting.  To put that in perspective, there have been more UFO sightings over the past decade than there have been instances of voter fraud in Texas.

The natural response to an issue that repeats itself with such alarming frequency is, of course, to pass legislation to nip it in the bud. The fact that over half a million Texans do not have the proper form of ID in order to comply with the law and will thus be disenfranchised this November is apparently a nonissue. That these Texans belong to groups that historically vote Democratic is also a coincidence.

This is not the first time Republicans have played partisan politics with our rights as citizens. In every redistricting cycle since the 1970s, Texas’ racially gerrymandered districts have been found to violate the Voting Rights Act. As disappointed as the University Democrats are with the voter ID bill, it’s about what we’d expect from a party that would see the Voting Rights Act overturned.

Make no mistake: Voter ID is not some protective act passed by a legislature worried about the preservation of democracy.  It is simply the latest in a series of racially discriminatory laws stretching back over 100 years. It’s embarrassing for Texas politicians to pretend otherwise, and it’s shameful that  Greg Abbott insists on defending a law that discriminates against so many Texans.

Adams is the communications director for University Democrats. She is a mechanical engineering senior from Dripping Springs.