Stanford University researchers looked at voter data from 1998 to 2018 in California, Utah and Washington, three states that staggered rollouts of vote-by-mail programs in recent years. Their findings? Expanding voting by mail did increase turnout, but only by two percentage points and not for one party in particular.
Lead researcher Daniel Thompson said vote-by-mail expansion increases the probability that someone who would normally vote actually follows through, rather than driving new or unlikely voters to the polls. "That's why the effect is neutral," he told Austonia.
What does this mean for Texas?
Texas allows mail-in ballots in specific, limited cases: for those over 65, with a disability, out of town during an election or in jail.
Despite the study's findings, vote-by-mail is a political issue in Texas. Many Republican officials, including Attorney General Ken Paxton, oppose expansion, which they say will lead to fraud. Democrats, on the other hand, argue that failing to let people vote by mail is tantamount to voter suppression.
A flurry of recent lawsuits—led by the state Democratic Party and other organizations—have attempted to expand mail-in voting in light of the coronavirus pandemic, but so far, judges have ruled that fear of contracting the coronavirus does not make someone eligible to vote by mail.
Nonetheless, Travis County has seen a near record-breaking number of vote-by-mail ballot applications ahead of the July 14 runoff election.
What happens in November?
Thompson said it's too early to tell if COVID-19 will affect turnout along partisan lines.
"While our paper can answer the question of the partisan consequences of vote-by-mail expansion in normal times, we can't say much yet about what will happen in the fall," he explained.
But it may serve as a reference point for states considering whether to expand vote-by-mail in the face of the pandemic—a move most Americans (and 85% of Austonia readers) support and some states have already taken."There are a lot of questions about how we would implement vote-by mail. How much it would cost, and what groups it might affect," Thompson's co-author Andrew Hall said in an April 16 release about the study's findings. "Our research here doesn't speak to all of these questions, but it addresses one key issue—and shows that, in normal times, expanding vote-by-mail does not advantage either party."
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So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
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