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Last week we launched TXDecides, our collaborative project with public radio newsrooms across the state. The goal was simple: Answer Texas voters' questions ahead of Election Day. Y'all had lots of questions. So many, in fact, that we had to pare down the questions to a scant five.

Luckily, we culled some of the remaining questions and decided to answer them as best we could. 

Since 1972, Texas has had a lower voter turnout rate than the national rate for presidential elections.

Emily Albracht / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: A slight majority of Texans want transgender people to choose restrooms based on their birth gender and not their gender identity, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The overall preferences were about the same when voters were asked about public school locker rooms and restrooms: 53 percent of voters said transgender people should use the facilities that match their birth gender.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

One race tucked into the crowded ballots that Travis County voters are seeing this election could have a substantial effect on police use-of-force cases. From the death of Eric Garner in New York to the death of David Joseph here in Austin, the majority of these cases share a coda: Local prosecutors fail to bring criminal charges against an officer.

Ilana Panich-Linsman for KUT

Voters in parts of Central Austin, East Austin and Pflugerville are voting for a representative for Texas House District 46 right now. And, even though there are technically two people on the ballot, only one candidate is actually planning to serve in that office.

Why Is Voter Turnout So Low in Texas?

Oct 28, 2016
Erik Hersman via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

In recent years, voter turnout in Texas has been…well, let’s just say not everything is bigger here.

State voter turnout has been below the national average for the past few decades, regularly falling below 50 percent. All this week, public radio stations across Texas are answering your election questions, as part of our TXDecides reporting series. Steven Kellman of Antonio wanted to know why turnout is so consistently low in Texas.

Emily Albracht/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Voters in the party that has not lost a statewide election in Texas since 1994 are most likely to say that elections are fraught with criminality, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The findings echo Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “rigged election” theme and rising apprehension over foreign or criminal hackers.

Investigators were looking into why a charter aircraft carrying Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and more than 40 others slid off the runway Thursday night while landing at LaGuardia Airport in the New York City borough of Queens.

NPR's Scott Detrow reports that Pence, Donald Trump's running mate, and everyone else on board was safe after the jet touched down in stormy weather and just kept going.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Travis County voters are set to elect a new sheriff for the first time in 12 years.

Among the four candidates running for Travis County Sheriff, a key issue is the Priority Enforcement Program, led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, flags people booked into the Travis County Jail who may be in the country illegally, potentially leading to their deportation.


Emily Albrecht/Texas Tribune

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a three-percentage-point lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton on the eve of early voting in Texas, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, had the support of 45 percent of likely Texas voters, compared with 42 percent for Clinton and Tim Kaine; 7 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson and William Weld; and 2 percent for the Green Party’s Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. The remaining 5 percent said they would vote for someone else for president and vice president.

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All 36 of Texas’ congressional seats are on the ballot this fall, but only one of those races is considered truly competitive. The vast majority of state House and Senate races aren’t particularly competitive, either. One big reason: A lot of the state's districts are drawn to give one party or the other a big majority.

“It is always true in sports and in politics that the rules are going to affect the way the game is played. And that is not any less true in redistricting,” said Rebecca Deen, who chairs the political science department at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

After crushing the previous record set in 2008 on day one of early voting, Travis County voters showed up in droves again on day two, busting even more turnout records along the way.

Al Ortiz / Houston Public Media

Joan Cunningham grew up in Canada and remembers watching people vote the old fashioned way: Fill out a paper ballot, drop it in a box. She understands electronic voting machines can be more efficient.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Travis County voters set a record Monday, casting 46,086 ballots on the first day of early voting. That means more than 6 percent of registered voters in the county cast a ballot.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

We all know Texas is a red state. Democrats haven't won a statewide election since 1994, and Republicans have carried the state in every presidential election since 1976.

The question of how that came to be got Gilda Garcia wondering, so she asked TXDecides – our statewide public radio collaborative that's answering Texas voters' questions ahead of Election Day.

"I remember growing up my parents talking about Texas being all Democratic – period," Garcia said. "So what happened?"

In short, it's complicated.

Homepage of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Houston.

From the Texas Tribune: Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos has said no to Russian officials’ request to watch Texans vote, according to correspondence obtained by The Texas Tribune.

Charles Pierce/Codie Smith

Voters in state House District 46 face an unusual predicament this November — unless they want to flip Republican, most of those casting ballots in the reliably Democratic district will opt for an incumbent Democrat who's already said she won't serve.

It was tense even before they started. Reporters tweeted that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump entered the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner from separate sides of the room, and didn't even shake hands (which at this point really isn't a surprise).

But there was hope that Thursday night's event could serve as a comedic salve for the nation following three decidedly nasty presidential debates. The fundraising event for Catholic charities — now in its 71st year — traditionally is a time for the candidates to offer jokes about themselves and their opponent.

Laura Buckman/Texas Tribune

DALLAS — Donald Trump's top supporter in Texas said Thursday he expects a "peaceful transition" of power in November as the Republican presidential nominee continued to decline to promise he would accept the outcome of the election.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chairs Trump's efforts in Texas, told reporters he thinks Trump was "misunderstood" during his debate Wednesday with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, when he repeatedly ducked the question of whether he would respect the results on Nov. 8.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

This week, the Tribune's Jay Root and KUT's Ben Philpott taped before a crowd at KLRU's historic studio 6A, former host of the iconic TV show "Austin City Limits."

 

As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the final presidential debate, follow along with the talk of Texas and, if you want to join the conversation, be sure to tag your tweets and Facebook posts #TXdecides. 

While there's sure to be plenty of chatter during and after the debate, be sure to tune in to our taping of KUT and the Texas Tribune's podcast, The Ticket 2016. It'll be a Facebook Live pre-debate show with Jay Root of the Tribune and our own Ben Philpott. They'll recap the latest news ahead of the final debate, and the event will also feature some comedy from our friends at ColdTowne Theater. The event starts at 7 p.m. on our Facebook page.

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