News Roundup: Voting Rights Group Is Keeping A Close Eye On Texas This Midterm Season

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Alexandra HartOctober 5, 2018 1:56 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A voting rights group says Texas is among a number of states it is watching this November. The Brennan Center for Justice says people living in states with close contests and restrictive voting laws should be vigilant on Election Day. KUT’s Ashley Lopez reports:

Wendy Weiser, the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, says there are a lot of close races this November.

‘And the outcomes are going to depend not only the candidates and the voters’ choices, but also on whether our voting system is doing its job. It’s got to allow eligible Americans to cast their votes, and it must protect the accuracy and fairness of the results.’

“Weiser says she’s seeing three major challenges to that: That includes voting restrictions like strict voter ID laws, partisan redistricting and elections security. Weiser is also warning voters to be aware of illegal voter purges in the state. Her group says improper purges have been on the rise in the last couple of years. Weiser says voters should go online and check their voter registration status to make sure they were not taken off the rolls before Election Day. To check in Texas, go to and click on ‘Register to Vote.'”

A University of Texas at Austin scientist has been awarded the MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious “Genius Grant.” Yesterday, the foundation named UT Assistant Chemistry Professor Livia Eberlin as a MacArthur Fellow. With that recognition comes a $625,000 no-strings-attached grant.

Last year, Eberlin and her team announced they had invented a handheld tool used to detect cancer cells. The MassSpec Pen can find cancerous tissue in just 10 seconds. That would help surgeons know more quickly if they’ve removed all the unhealthy cells while operating on patients. The current method can take 30 minutes or more, and may yield unreliable results.

In an interview with the Texas Standard last year, Eberlin said she hoped that the pen would make the healing process easier for patients.

“This is not only emotional impact to the patients, the higher survival, but also to the health-care system, like, the savings that you’d have from not having to do unnecessary surgeries because unfortunately, you couldn’t get all the cancer out,” Eberlin said at the time.

Eberlin is one of 25 recipients of the annual award, which goes out to “extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential,” according to the foundation.

Prosecutors say a Border Patrol agent accused of killing four women near Laredo may have used his service weapon to shoot the victims. The Webb County district attorney says shell casings found at crime scenes suggest that an agency-issued handgun was used.

Agent Juan David Ortiz was arrested on Sept. 15 and is being held on a $2.5 million bond.

The case comes at a time when the Border Patrol grapples with a rise in misconduct cases. A report by the Government Accountability Office indicates there were more than 20,000 misconduct cases involving Border Patrol employees from 2014 to 2016.