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VIDEO: With competitive races across California for Assembly, Senate and House seats, Dan Walters suggests voting early and ignoring the hit pieces landing in the mailbox.

Tonight's the last debate between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, and UC Davis students will have their smartphones fired up and ready as they watch it.

About 50 students there will join their counterparts at at least six other universities across the country to field-test a new app, co-designed by a UC Davis faculty member, that gathers real-time reactions to allow instant polling on a large scale.

Amber Boydstun, assistant professor of political science and app co-designer, will be on hand along with Mindy Romero, a researcher with the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, at the debate-watch gathering in the UC Davis Emergency Operations Center. The debate runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Poll results will be released Tuesday morning.

Hmm. What new meme will pop up during the debate to replace Big Bird and "binders full of women"?

Back in Sacramento, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gives the keynote talk at the National Congress of American Indians' 69th annual convention and marketplace. He's expected to discuss the Obama administration's relationship with the tribal governments of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Salazar will also introduce the department's new assistant secretary for Indian affairs, Kevin K. Washburn, a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and the former dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law. The convention is being held at the Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J St., and Salazar is set to speak at 10:30 a.m.

ELECTION 2012: Today's the deadline for registering to vote in the Nov. 6 election. If you're a procrastinator and live in the Sacramento area, the Secretary of State's Office is hosting a registration drive, complete with balloons and costumed characters, at Cal Expo's main gate. Find it at Exposition Boulevard and Heritage Way from 11 a.m. to midnight. You also have until midnight to submit an online application at


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