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With three more full days of voting left this election, Travis County has surpassed its November 2016 turnout.
As of midday on Wednesday, 486,206 votes had been cast during the early voting period and by mail compared to a total of 477,588 votes in the last presidential election.
"We can't emphasize enough how proud we are of Travis County voters for coming out in huge numbers during this early voting period," the Travis County Clerk's office tweeted.
The moment you’ve been waiting for...Travis County has surpassed its Nov ‘16 total vote turnout! 486,206 votes ha… https://t.co/XrDtYfQDE4— Travis County Clerk (@Travis County Clerk)1603904984.0
During the last presidential election, nearly 80% of Travis County voters cast their ballots early. Of the 477,588 total votes, only 103,536 were cast on Election Day.
This trend is not limited to Travis County. Nearby Hays and Williamson counties surpassed their 2016 numbers earlier this week, and turnout is up statewide—and across the country—despite the ongoing pandemic.
As of Tuesday, more than 8.1 million people—or around 48% of registered voters—had cast their ballots early in Texas. This surpasses turnout during the first two weeks of early voting in both 2016, when nearly 44% of registered voters had cast their ballots, and 2012, when less than 37% had, according to the Texas Tribune.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced over the summer that the early voting period would be extended by six days due to the pandemic.
Texas is 819,931 votes away from surpassing the statewide turnout in the 2016 general election. It has already exceeded the 2012 turnout by 155,445 votes, according to the Texas Secretary of State's office.
The early voting period ends on Friday, Oct. 30. Registered voters will be able to cast their ballots so long as they are in line by 7 p.m. A list of early voting polling locations can be found here.
The following six polling locations will be open until 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday:
- Ben Hur Shrine Centerr
- Millennium Youth Complex
- PfISD Rock Gym
- South Park Meadows, Suite 400
- South Park Meadows, Suite 500
- Austin Central Library
Residents can find wait time estimates for each location here, whether they are registered to vote here, voter identification requirements in Texas here, their personal ballot here and some races to watch here.
Many local businesses are also encouraging voting by offering specials—from a free slice of pizza to a discounted pint—to those who bring in their "I voted" or "Yo voté" sticker.
This story has been updated to clarify the total number of votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.
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Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
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Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."