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For years it was assumed that renters were simply less civic-minded. But low tenant turnout may be due to something far easier to overcome: the cumbersome registration process.


With time running out in some states to register to vote in the presidential election, see if you know which of the following questions is more crucial for renters:

A) Will you take the time to vote on Nov. 6?

B) Are you registered to vote?

The answer is “B.” The distinction is particularly important for tenants, who have just as much of a stake in election outcomes as do homeowners. (Even if Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips said in 2010 that the nation’s founders were on to a good idea in allowing only property owners to vote, “because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community.”)

For years, the massive population of tenants — one-third of Americans and climbing — has turned out at a markedly lower rate than homeowners. In the 2008 presidential election, for example, 52% of renters voted, compared with 68% of homeowners, a sizable gap that, if closed, could turn elections. A back-of-the-envelope calculation using census figures shows that if tenants voted at the same rate as homeowners, an additional 11.2 million tenants would cast ballots in the upcoming November election.

For years, the reason for low tenant turnout has been chalked up to demographic factors, such as lifestyle or income — really just a polite way of saying, “Renters don’t care.” That’s because the demographics of tenants tend to mirror the demographics of those with low voter-turnout rates:

Lower income: The median income of tenants is about half the median income of homeowners, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Low-income citizens register and vote at lower rates. In 2008, according to census data, 80% of people with incomes of more than $100,000 were registered and 73% voted; only 64% of those with incomes of less than $20,000 were registered and 52% voted.

Less education: People with less education are less likely to own a home, and voting trends again correlate. In 2008, only 50.5% of eligible voters with less than a high-school diploma had registered to vote, compared with 64.1% of those with a high-school diploma and 81.2% of those with a four-year college degree, according to census data.

Younger: The 2008 election saw near-record youth turnout, which was credited with helping to secure victory for President Barack Obama. Even so, among 18- to 29-year-olds, only 51% of eligible voters went to the polls, compared with 69% of those between the 45 and 64.

More mobile: Tenants are far more likely to move than homeowners. Because of that, theorists have surmised, they are less likely to put down roots and become civically engaged.

Oops, I completely forgot to register
But evidence is mounting that it is the last point — the fact that people move — that is key, and that past assumptions about why tenants don’t vote may be incorrect.

Political scientists who have been re-evaluating reams of voting data have found that whether a tenant votes is less about political will and more about the cumbersome and at times elusive process of registering.

Think about it: The last time you moved, which tenants obviously do far more frequently than homeowners, at exactly what point in the unpacking process did you jump and say: “I’ve got to go re-register to vote at my new address!”

“Registration itself is really the red tape and the stumbling block right now,” says Liz Kennedy, a counsel with Demos, a public policy research group that advances voter rights. “There are so many different jurisdictions that administer elections that a lot of this can be perhaps somewhat tricky to navigate.”

It isn’t until an election draws near that many people even remember that they need to re-register at their new address. Then it’s up to them to find out how, where and by when. Recent, tighter voter ID laws present further complications, while threatening to disenfranchise millions of elderly, minority and low-income citizens.

There’s still time to register to vote
Meanwhile, voters may hear or read little about legal protections afforded citizens, including those designed to help people who have recently moved.

For example, under the National Voting Rights Act, if you did not move out of your jurisdiction (for example, New York City is in one jurisdiction), you are allowed to cast your ballot at your old polling place.Furthermore, many states allow anyone who has moved within the state to vote at the new polling place, even if that person hasn’t yet registered to vote at his new address. A voter can update his address on the day of the election. Many states allow voters to register online.

Those laws alone affect millions of tenants. Within the past year, almost 20 million voting-age adults moved in this country. Of those, two-thirds moved within their county and 84% moved within their state.

“So all is not lost when people move, and they should certainly not think, ‘Oh, gee, now I can’t vote at all.’ They should instead call their Board of Elections,” Kennedy said.

States determine their own voter-registration deadlines. The earliest are 30 days before the election, or Oct. 7 for the upcoming presidential election. Eleven states, including swing states Iowa and New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia allow voters to register up to and including Election Day. North Dakota has no registration requirements.

To find voter-registration details for your state and jurisdiction, you can call the 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline or go to www.866OurVote.org. You can also see deadlines and other information at VoteSmart.org.

If you register, you will vote
But back to bucking the old stereotypes about why tenants don’t vote.

It turns out that once renters register to vote, they are just as likely as homeowners — or those who haven’t moved — to cast a ballot. About 90% of registered voters show up to vote for president.

“A lot of our under-represented demographic, these groups are highly mobile. But if you look at the turnout rate among the registered voters, they turn out at the same rates,” says Youjin Kim, apolicy analyst with Demos.

A 2011 academic study of 1.8 million voter-registration records found that after about age 22, people were more likely to register only because they were more likely to have been at one address for a longer period of time. The authors found a correlation with the registration process itself, not with a lack of resources or interest.

“So the argument that the younger you are, the less ties that you have to the community, and the less interested you are, is not true,” Kim says.

A 2000 study by a political scientist at the University of California, Davis, found that while voter-turnout rates were highly affected by the act of moving, it didn’t matter how far away the voter moved. In other words, it wasn’t changing communities that mattered, but simply changing addresses. So much for the assumption that low voter turnout meant people hadn’t established roots in their community, the author concluded.

Furthermore, says Demos, when registration is uncomplicated, people vote. The five states with the highest voter-turnout rates all have same-day registration.

Just give tenants the forms?
In Madison, Wis., where half the city households are renters, one elected official introduced a novel idea to help streamline voter registration for city clerks, who were getting inundated with applications on Election Day.

Since so many people move into new apartments in mid-August, just as election season is heating up, why not require that landlords give all new tenants voter-registration application and information sheets?

As in other states, efforts have been under way to clamp down on voter registration. And Wisconsin does not ask about voter registration when drivers apply for a license, as many states do under the National Voter Registration Act. Really, though, Alderwoman Bridget Maniaci says she just wanted to reduce government costs and ease clerical workload by preventing tens of thousands of registration applications from landing on Nov. 6.

Since the law went into effect this summer, city clerks have been receiving about 1,000 applications a day, a far more efficient stream to handle. Local government provides the paperwork to landlords, who then include it in the packet of information they already provide tenants.

“We’re trying to get the forms to people so they can come in in a staggered fashion,” she says. The clerk’s staff “is able to manage that and get everyone into the poll books.”

Minnesota, which has had same-day voter registration since 1974, has the country’s highest rate of voter turnout: 75% in 2008, compared with 64% nationally.

“It doesn’t matter to me how you’re voting; it matters to me that we have accessibility for individuals to go vote,” Maniaci says. “I don’t understand how we got to the point as a country where discouraging voting is a positive policy goal to have.”

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Karen Aho of MSN Real Estate

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The average American man works 8.73 hours per day. If you feel like you need 87 hours in a day just to meet all of your deadlines, then you have a bigger problem than drowning under your inbox: You’re setting yourself up for heart disease, finds a new study published online today in The Lancet.

The study looked at workers under “job strain.” That’s just a fancy way of saying that you 1) have piles of work to do, and 2) feel like you have zero control over your workload, your promotion chances, or the brain-numbing assignments your boss slaps on your desk.

The findings: Men who experience job strain have a 29 percent greater chance of developing heart disease than men without these demands. Even guys who had very high workloads were in the clear as long as they felt like they had some control over their fate.

Strain leads to stress, which increases your blood pressure–the number one risk for heart disease–and could lead to a long list of other heart-damaging side effects, researchers explain.

Are you strained? Answer these two questions:

Do you feel constantly overloaded at work? Do you feel like there’s jack you can do about it? If yes to both–congratulations!–you have job strain.

But even if you can’t control your workload, you can beat the heart-damaging effects of stress. Step 1: Sweat. A lot. A University of Missouri at Columbia study found that 33 minutes of high-intensity exercise helps lower stress levels more than working out at a moderate pace. What’s more, the benefits last as long as 90 minutes afterward. For a fast-paced, muscle-building, fat-torching workout that’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before, check out Speed Shred from Men’s Health DeltaFIT. The eight follow-along DVDs will change your life, one 30-minute workout at a time.

Steps 2 through 15: These easy tips to turn your workplace into a palace of zen.

Take Your Calls Standing Up

Here’s what happens when you flick on your iMac: “Your breathing rate goes up 30 percent, your blinking rate goes way down, and you tend to tighten your arms and shoulders without knowing it,” says Erik Peper, Ph.D., of the Institute for Holistic Healing at San Francisco State University. Your remedy: Change your body position every half hour or so–simply standing while talking on the phone can improve bloodflow and ease muscle strain. (Is your office chair killing you? Find out in the Men’s Health special report Sentenced to the Chair.)

Visit Cracked.com

Each hour, spend a minute perusing a funny blog. Periodic breaks help you process and absorb new information, increasing your efficiency, says Cleveland Clinic psychologist Michael McKee, Ph.D. During your hiatus, take 10-second breaths–inhale 4 seconds, exhale 6–to bolster your heart’s ability to recover from stress.

Enforce the Three-Second Rule

The average working professional spends roughly 23 percent of his workday on email and glances at his inbox about 36 times an hour, finds a study from the University of Glasgow. It takes you an average of 64 seconds to return to a task once you’ve stopped to read a new email, according to another study from Loughborough University. Allow yourself no more than 3 seconds to decide whether a message is worthy of your immediate attention, says John Grohol, Psy.D. (Here’s an email you’ll look forward to receiving every day: The Men’s Health Daily Dose newsletter. It’s full of tons of useful stuff!)

Put a Green Dot on Your Phone

This is your secret reminder to take one deep breath before you answer a call, says Susan Siegel, of the Program on Integrative Medicine at the University of North Carolina school of medicine. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll sound more confident.

Go to Starbucks–with Your Coworkers

Researchers at the University of Bristol in England discovered that when stressed-out men consumed caffeine by themselves, they remained nervous and jittery. But when anxious men caffeine-loaded as part of a group, their feelings of stress subsided. Just make sure you avoid The 6 Worst Coffee Drinks in America.

Play Pandora at Work

A study in Nature Neuroscience found that listening to favorite tunes or anticipating a certain point in a song can cause a pleasurable flood of dopamine. Listen to a few songs in a row several times a day.

Try the Office Chair Workout

An Australian study published last month found that just 15 minutes of yoga–practiced right from an office chair–can reduce stress. Got a chair? Sitting in it right now? Great–try The Office Chair Workout.

Be Fashionably Late to Happy Hour

If you’re looking forward to unwinding after a grueling work week with a cold brew, hold off on happy hour for 30 minutes: Drinking while stressed out actually prolongs your anxiety–even when you limit yourself to two–according to a study at the University of Chicago. The easy fix: Tell the crew you need to run errands before hitting the bar. Then take a quick walk, browse Best Buy’s new releases, or flip to SportsCenter to check the scores.

Grab Your Ears

Tug your lobes (lightly) and move them in circles in opposite directions for a count of 10, advises massage therapist Elizabeth Cornell. The motion moves the tentorium membrane in your head, which can relieve stress. You’ll also be in fighting shape for charades.

Take the Scenic Route

If it doesn’t add much time to your commute, drive on roads with more trees and grass–natural scenes decrease feelings of anger and frustration on the road, according to a study in the journal Environment and Behavior. Not an option? Put on your favorite band’s new album. Drivers who faced frustrating and irritating congestion felt less stressed when listening to music they enjoyed, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Put a Hole in a Tennis Ball and Squeeze

Let the tension build up in your hand and the rest of your body, then release. This increases relaxation, says Allen Elkin, Ph.D., director of the Stress Management and Counseling Center in New York City. Tennis balls are those yellowy things people hit around in the ’70s and ’80s.

Hold Your Tongue

When your annoying colleague decides to be annoying once again, tell yourself, I choose to be calm, says Siegel. Ah, now it’s a choice, and you choose to be master and commander of the ship.

Make a Schedule

If the boss suddenly dumps a big project on you, try not to say, “I can’t do this. I’m gonna get fired.” (Try particularly not to say this in front of your boss.) Instead, present him with a schedule outlining when things can be done. What was overwhelming is now under control and open to negotiation, says James Blumenthal, Ph.D., a psychologist at Duke University.

Laugh It Off

Think your job is stressful? Try taking a gig as a New York City firefighter. One study found that every time a fire alarm bell rings, a firefighter’s heart rate jumps up to 150 beats per minute–about the same rate as a moderate jog. Firefighter Matt Long says his fire station received between 4,000 and 5,000 calls like that each year. “After a bad day, we deal with things through laughter,” Long says. To land the perfect practical joke, make sure you know the person well, always help clean up, and be ready to have your target prank you back.

Pop This Pill

Frazzled medical students fed an omega-3 supplement for 12 weeks saw a 20 percent drop in stress compared to their placebo-taking peers, Ohio State University research shows. Click here for the 10 Best Supplements for Men.

Do you feel your blood pressure going down already?



Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by:Editors of Men’s Health

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The e-commerce giant may be close to launching a wine marketplace.

Remember when the late Orson Wells bragged that Paul Masson would sell no wine before its time? Well, Amazon (AMZN) is about to find out how hard that can be.

The e-commerce king is planning to launch an online marketplace for wine in the coming weeks, according to The Wall Street Journal. That’s going to be a challenge, considering that it’s illegal for wineries to sell “off-site,” directly to consumers, in about a dozen states. Wine sales are restricted in many other states under prohibitions that date back to the Prohibition era. Whether the Seattle company will be able to help break down those barriers remains to be seen. But the timing seems right for such a venture in the $32.5 billion U.S. wine business.

Data from the Wine Institute, a trade group, shows that wine volumes have grown for 18 straight years. Sales hit a record 347 million cases in 2011, an increase of 5.3%, far exceeding the performance of beer, which has been lackluster for years. Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD -0.95%) recently reported that it had increased sales of beer in the U.S. for the first time in three years. Consumption of distilled spirits gained 3.6% in 2011, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

Wine attracts a wide variety of consumers, from those ages 21-34 to baby boomers. Amazon’s venture may hold with sales of mid-priced vintages that would have difficulty otherwise expanding outside their home markets. The company may drive down wine prices much as it did with books. There are already plenty of wines available for under $15 and a wine sold under the Charles Shaw label at Trader Joe’s gained fame as Two-Buck Chuck for both its price and taste.

Participating in Amazon’s venture won’t be cheap. The company is reportedly going to charge vintners both a 15% commission and a $40 monthly fee. Many will find it’s worth the bother.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Jonathon Berr

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There were likely cries of joy from students (and maybe a few parents) at Gaithersburg Elementary School in Maryland when Principal Stephanie Brant announced a radical new experiment: no more traditional homework.

Instead, students are asked to read about 30 minutes a night from a book of their choosing.

Over the past few years, Brant and her staff evaluated what teachers were sending students home with and found they were asking students to complete a lot of worksheets.

“The worksheets didn’t match what we were doing instructionally in the classroom,” Brant said in a news story on MyFoxDC.com. “We were giving students something because we felt we have to give them something.”

Parents appear to support the change, and Brant hopes it will prove motivational for her students.

Unlike most elementary schools, students at Gaithersburg are allowed to go to the library every day instead of just once a week as a class. The school believes this will strengthen reading habits and result in the students consuming more books at their own pace.

According to MyFoxDC.com, the new policy seems to be paying off. Fifth graders at Gaithersburg Elementary School scored around 72 percent proficiency in math and about 81 percent proficiency in reading in the last round of standardized test scores.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: MSN Living Editor – Rebekah Schilperoort

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Juggling a new carpool schedule, unfamiliar teachers, and your child’s school jitters can make one over-whelming season. Avoid a mommy meltdown by staying organized and in control with these 10 must-have tools.

Check out the full article here.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Zoe Schaeffer

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Back to school means early mornings and quick breakfasts. Use some of these tips to boost your kid’s brain power and to make the most of his or her school day!


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I am watching the BCS National Championship and am mourning the fact that college football season is coming to an end.  I come from a football family.  My grandfather, Clint Small, played for the University of Texas, as did my father and brother in law; my brother played for Vanderbilt.  There is nothing greater than fall football in Austin, Texas.  I think about the time and physical commitment the young men make to be on a team. Makes me want to do the same for my own business.  Get to the National Championship like LSU and Alabama.

The company I work with has amazing tools- it is all in how you use them.  Consider the “Market Update”- up to date information about every zip code in this country.  I focus on 78703.  It is the neighborhood in which I grew up and currently live.  Click to put your own zip code in and find out (or confirm) why it is so great.  You can also compare zip codes.  Are you thinking of moving? Compare where you live now to your new zip code.

I like to set my business up 90 days out.  I know myself and can work with 4 to 5 buyers and 4 to 5 sellers at a time.  Do you need to be on my radar?

Congrats to Bey and Jay! Blue Ivy Carter!!!

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