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Probe Over Whether Students’ Voting Rights Violated Still Ongoing


Some students at a historically Black university are wondering why an investigation by the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott into alleged voting rights violations is still not finished.

Abbott’s office began its probe in December 2006 after allegations were made that about 300 students at Prairie View A&M University had to cast provisional ballots when their names were not on voting lists.

A provisional ballot is cast when someone shows up to vote and credentials for voting in a particular district cannot be verified on election day. Such a ballot is counted only after a voter’s eligibility is verified.

Local Black leaders also contended that more than 1,000 voter-registration forms may not have been processed by Waller County officials.

“Something should have been done by now,” student Ashley Slayton told the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t know think there is a logical explanation for why there hasn’t been anything done.”

Waller County Justice of the Peace DeWayne Charleston, who has been an advocate for voting rights of Blacks, said he was not upset by the pace of the probe but expects results.

“I would probably be somewhat disappointed if they came back after taking a year or so with something to the effect that they found nothing,” Charleston said.

The Attorney General’s Office said the investigation is continuing but gave no indication when it might be finished.

This is not the first time voting and race have been an issue in Waller County.

In 2003, former Waller County District Attorney Oliver Kitzman challenged the voting rights of Prairie View A&M students, arguing that the students did not meet residency requirements.

But Abbott later ruled students at Prairie View, nearly 50 miles northwest of Houston, do have the legal right to vote locally. He said the students have to show only that they consider Waller County their legal residence.

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