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The Brief: Early voting begins, and state Democrats are hopeful

Democrats pin hopes on a Donald Trump down-ballot effect to help them in the polls.

People stand in line to vote for the primaries at the Flawn Academic Center on the University of Texas campus on March 1, 2016.

The Big Conversation

With early voting beginning today in Texas, registered voters across the Lone Star state will finally get the chance to start casting ballots in what has already proven to be a historic presidential election.

As the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reports, a recent CBS News poll that found Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton by only 3 percentage points in Texas — 46 to 43 percent — has some Texas Democrats hopeful they can make gains down the ballot. People "are telling us they are ready, they want to go vote ... and Trump has a big role in that,” said Victoria Neave, who is taking on state Rep. Ken Sheets in an increasingly heated Dallas County race.

Trump’s down-ballot effect is gaining the most attention in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, the state’s most contested race. U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, is in a heated rematch with Pete Gallego, a Democrat from Alpine, and many Democrats are holding out hope that Trump’s controversial language will help Gallego win.

Texans looking to cast ballots can show one of the seven accepted types of photo ID. Voters who do not have one of the accepted documents and cannot “reasonably obtain” them can vote by signing a form swearing that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining appropriate identification and by presenting an alternate form of ID.

Tell us what this election means to you and your experience at the polls by joining ElectionLand and using the hashtag .

Trib Must Reads

Mexico fights illegal immigration on its own southern border, by Jay Root — Under pressure from the United States, Mexico has tried to cut down the flow of Central American immigrants passing through on their way to the southern U.S. border.

Analysis: High property taxes start in Austin, not school districts, by Ross Ramsey — State lawmakers complain that local property taxes need to be leashed. But state lawmakers are more responsible for the increases than they let on.

In Railroad Commission race, a petroleum engineer lifts Libertarian hopes, by Jim Malewitz — Mark Miller, a Libertarian running for Railroad Commission, is gaining an unusual amount of attention in a turbulent election cycle, leaving his party hopeful that it can make a splash in a statewide race.

Warring ads turn up heat on competitive Dallas County House race, by Brandon Formby — An out-of-district house and a Child Protective Services vote are the topics of competing campaign materials from incumbent Republican Rep. Kenneth Sheets and his opponent, Democrat Victoria Neave.

Trump trickle-down could impact education board races, by Kiah Collier — Several Democrats aiming to unseat incumbent Republicans on the State Board of Education say they believe the relative unpopularity of the Republican at the top of the ticket, Donald Trump, will help propel them to victory in the Nov. 8 general election.

State Rep. Laura Thompson arrested on family assault charge, by Elena Mejia Lutz — The Legislature's only independent won a special election in August, and is hoping to retain the House District 120 seat in November. 

SEC files amended charges against AG Ken Paxton, by Patrick Svitek — The Securities and Exchange Commission's Friday decision is the latest blow to Attorney General Ken Paxton, who's been under a legal cloud for more than a year.

What are the rules for poll watchers? A Texplainer., by Jim Malewitz — Hey Texplainer: I hear that a poll watcher may be lingering nearby while I vote. What does Texas law say they can and cannot do?

How Texas could be undercounting its voting age population, by Alexa Ura – The voting-age population figure being used by the Texas secretary of state's office to calculate registration and turnout percentages may be off the mark.

Texas to Russian official: Stay out of our polling places, by Jim Malewitz — Texas has denied Russian officials’ request to observe the state's voters in their polling places.  

Child Protective Services chief: We need 550 more caseworkers, by Marissa Evans — “Texas children remain at risk," Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman wrote. "This is unacceptable."

Texas Congressman echoes Trump: Hillary Clinton "has done some nasty things", by Abby Livingston — "I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty," U.S. Rep. Brian Babin told radio host Alan Colmes Thursday.


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

Official fights to restore special ed for autistic son, Houston Chronicle 

No Easy Mold to Fill to Become a Latino Texas Politician, The New York Times

Many Texas border busts classified as 'high threat' don't fit the bill, AP review finds, The Associated Press

A Trump-related hotel project in Austin? Well, maybe, Austin American-Statesman

Record turnout expected for start of early voting, San Antonio Express-News

Landlord HMK and city of Dallas try to reach pact to delay evictions, The Dallas Morning News

New Jersey refinery concerns echo safety issues in Texas, Houston Chronicle 

Austin’s Alex Jones: The voice in Donald Trump’s head, Austin American Statesman

Quote to Note

“If anyone here thinks Donald Trump is our salvation, then you’ve gotten a little too bright-eyed about a candidate. Trump is not our salvation. But he is a reprieve. He will give us a little more time to get things straightened out.”

— U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, told the Smith County Republican Women’s Club on Friday while urging voters to support the GOP platform.

Today in TribTalk

I'm a Republican woman, and I'm voting for Trump, by Theresa Kosmoski — Trump is offensive to those who aren't used to directness and sarcasm, but no one can doubt his love of country.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   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

•   A Conversation with Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University on Dec. 1 at The Austin Club

•   San Antonio & the Legislature: A Preview of the 85th on Dec. 2 at University of Texas at San Antonio – Downtown Campus

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