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Early voting in the Nov. 8 general election begins Oct. 24 and runs through Nov. 4. Applications for voting by mail must be received by Oct. 28, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Texans are eligible to vote by mail if they are 65 or older; sick or disabled; are expected to give birth within three weeks of Election Day; will be absent from the county where they vote during early voting and on Election Day; or are in jail but otherwise eligible.
If voting by mail, Texans are urged to carefully read the instructions before putting their ballot in the mail. More than 12% of mail-in ballots were rejected in the March primary for not complying with tighter voting regulations enacted in the last legislative session, according to kut.org.
Meanwhile, the latest poll shows the race between Gov. Greg Abbott and Beto O’ Rourke has tightened since the Sept. 30 debate between the two, the Corpus Christi Caller Times reported. The latest poll by Marist College shows Abbott’s lead has dropped to 4 percentage points.
As the race hits the homestretch, O’ Rourke reports having slightly more cash on hand in the latest three- month reporting period, which ended Sept. 29. He also outraised Abbott by a slight margin during the same period.
Drought conditions expected to return
A warmer and drier September and the continued presence of La Nina conditions mean drought conditions are likely to return to the parts of Texas that got some relief in August, according to Dr. Mark Wentzel, a hydrologist with the Texas Water Development Board.
At the end of September, drought conditions covered 61% of the state, Wentzel wrote, which was down 15 percentage points from the end of August.
However, the National Weather Service expects a third straight fall and winter of La Niña conditions, meaning below-average rain and above-average temperatures across Texas during the fall and early winter. Those conditions are expected to dissipate early next year, hopefully bringing drought relief and possibly complete recovery by the end of next spring.
New ERCOT chief vows grid stability
The new CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said at a press conference last week that one of his main duties is convincing Texans they can stop worrying about the electric grid.
“The key is going to be continued reliable execution,” Pablo Vegas said. “Achieving reliable operations over extreme weather conditions, that’s how you continue to build trust.”
He made the comments at a press conference held jointly with Peter Lake, chair of the Public Utility Commission. Both Lake and Vegas said improvements and operational changes made since the February 2021 freeze have made the grid much more reliable.
They pointed out there were no systemic outages during one of the hottest summers on record, which spurred a record demand for power, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
“We continue to be tested, (and) we continue to pass those tests,” Vegas said.
COVID-19 cases drop sightly
The number of COVID-19 cases reported in the past week in Texas by the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University decreased slightly to 13,442, with 92 deaths reported. Texas Department of State Health Services reported 1,147 lab-confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state, also a slight drop from the previous week.