The Big Conversation

A record-breaking 15 million Texans are registered to vote in the upcoming November election, the secretary of state’s office announced Thursday.

As the Tribune’s Alex Samuels reports, this figure amounts to 78 percent of the state’s voting-age population and more than 1.3 million additional registered voters from four years ago. Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state, previously told the Dallas Morning News that the spike in registered voters could be attributed to high interest in the 2016 presidential election cycle.

In Texas, the margin separating Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is shrinking. A WFAA/SurveyUSA poll released Thursday found Trump beating Clinton 47 percent to 43 percent — which falls within the margin of error.

As the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reports, Trump’s polling numbers have been decreasing after the release of a 2005 clip showing him making lewd comments about women, and the 4-point margin may be Trump’s smallest lead in Texas yet.

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Trib Must Reads

Bones from decades of conflict pass through San Salvador morgue, by Jay Root — The bodies are found in abandoned fields, along river banks and in hastily dug graves. They end up in the central morgue's Department of Forensic Anthropology, a wrenching testament to the human toll of decades of violence. 

Analysis: A lavish benefit for Texas lawmakers could get even bigger, by Ross Ramsey — Regulators are deciding how much lobby wining and dining Texas lawmakers can accept without revealing their names. Hint: It's a lot.

Ethics commission ends long-running probe into Empower Texans, by Patrick Svitek — The Texas Ethics Commission on Thursday voted to end a long-running investigation into one of the state's most influential conservative groups.

Dan Patrick: Donald Trump groping scandal "in the rearview mirror", by Bobby Blanchard — Texas' lieutenant governor said he believes voters are more concerned about the issues than the latest rash of allegations against Trump.

Reports shine light on competitive statehouse races, by Patrick Svitek — A new wave of campaign finance reports is bringing into focus how competitive some state legislatives races are.

Elsewhere

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

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Obama cites Jade Helm conspiracy chatter as precursor to Trump's rise, The Dallas Morning News

Perry joins board of firm where he had stem cell surgery, The Associated Press

'Texit' on tour: Texas secessionists invited to Europe to talk independence, Houston Chronicle 

Texas Monthly magazine sold for $25 million, Austin American-Statesman

Trump's still the man for many Texas GOP evangelicals, Huntsville Item

Texas gets more than $45M in disaster aid for flood recovery, The Associated Press

Anti-obesity coalition pushes for nutrition standards in state child care centers, The Dallas Morning News

Judge will let Exxon question climate-change investigation, San Antonio Express-News

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Ex-DPS trooper in Sandra Bland may seek to move trial, Houston Chronicle 

Quote to Note

"Gerald really doesn’t have any hobbies."

— Charlyn Daughtery, wife of Travis County commissioner Gerald Daughtery, in an ad released last week aimed at helping her husband's re-election efforts

Today in TribTalk

Texas squanders $40 billion a year in taxpayer health care contributions, by Ken Janda — A huge percentage of our tax dollars are wasted by state laws and policies we could fix here in Texas.

News From Home

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Trib Events for the Calendar

•   The Texas Response To Zika on Oct. 18 at BCBSTX Headquarters in Richardson

•   The Ticket: A Live Recording and Presidential Debate Watch Party on Oct. 19 at KLRU Studio 6A

•   A Conversation with U.S. Rep Michael McCaul on Oct. 25 at The Austin Club 

•   "Along Came Kinky" Screening and Conversation on Oct. 27 at the LBJ Library

•   A Symposium on Transportation on Nov. 3 at Texas A&M University - Rudder Tower 

•   A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke on Nov. 4 at The Austin Club 

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Andrew Murr and Jason Isaac on Nov. 14 at Schreiner University in Kerrville