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The Brief: Oct. 9, 2012

With the start of early voting less than two weeks away, a crucial deadline dawns today.

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The Big Conversation:

With the start of early voting less than two weeks away, a crucial deadline dawns today.

It's the last day to register to vote. Haven't done so yet? You can't do it online (the secretary of state's office requires a signature), but you can print out this form and mail it in by the end of the day to make the deadline. Postage-paid registration cards are also still available at many government buildings, like post offices and libraries, and some election offices will accept walk-in applicants throughout the day. Moved since you last voted? Follow the same steps to note your change of address; if you've moved within the same county, though, changes can be made online.

Counties report that Texans appear to have taken note of the deadline. For the past week, Travis County's registrar has received 2,000 to 3,000 applications a day. Bexar County offices have also reported a deluge of last-minute applications, though the number of registrations so far has fallen below 2008 levels.

Of course, not all registered Texans will show up at the polls. In 2004 and 2008, fewer than 60 percent of registered voters cast ballots. 

Rather, officials this year hope local races and ballot initiatives will motivate voters unmoved by the presidential race.

"If there’s not a statewide fight we’ll gin one up locally," Peck Young, who heads Austin Community College's Center for Public Policy and Political Studies, told the Austin American-Statesman. “We don’t believe in wasting a good election.”

Early voting begins Oct. 22.

Culled:

  • Abigail Fisher, the student at the center of the high-profile affirmative action case up for review at the Supreme Court this week, has granted her first media interview to The New York Times. "I’m hoping that they’ll completely take race out of the issue in terms of admissions and that everyone will be able to get into any school that they want no matter what race they are but solely based on their merit and if they work hard for it," she tells the Times. As for the case, which lawyers will argue in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton has a look at what will happen if UT loses.
  • The Mexican Navy said late Monday that it may have killed Heriberto Lazcano, the leader of the notoriously violent Zetas drug cartel and one of Mexico's most-wanted criminals, The Associated Press reports. A statement from the Navy said marines on Sunday engaged in a battle with and killed two men, one of whom appears to resemble Lazcano, who is known as "El Lazca."
  • San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro's pre-K initiative, a one-eighth-cent sales tax increase to help low-income children, will receive a boost on TV ahead of the November elections. As the San Antonio Express-News reports, the Pre-K 4 SA campaign since July has raised more than $363,000, most of which will go toward TV spots supporting the initiative. Local conservative groups have weighed in against the initiative but don't yet appear to have raised significant sums of money to fight it.

"All of the above." — Abigail Fisher to The New York Times on whether she finds her role in the UT affirmative action case exciting, interesting or scary

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