Get out and vote

Tuesday is Election Day in Eastern Ohio, and residents of our region have some important decisions to make.

The primary election provides an opportunity for each political party to nominate its candidates for office in the general election, which happens on Nov. 6. This year in Ohio voters are casting ballots to select a new governor, as Republican John Kasich is term limited and cannot seek re-election. Only two county-level officials will be chosen in each county across the state in this election cycle – one county commission seat and the county auditor.

That means the May 8 ballot is not a very crowded one. With the exception of the governor’s race and a field of six candidates for Belmont County commission, local voters do not have a lot of contested races to consider. But there are important issues on local ballots, and voting remains just as important regardless of how many questions or contests are to be decided.

Many people take the right to vote for granted. When they forget to stop at a polling location on Election Day, they are also forgetting that people fought and died for the right to vote. Our forefathers risked their lives seeking to have a say in who our leaders would be and in how our country would be governed.

At one time in America, only free white men who owned a certain amount of property were permitted to vote. That right eventually was extended to all white men age 18 and older, then to freed black men who had been slaves, and finally to women. None of that happened overnight. People struggled for decades to secure the right to vote.

Now that we have that right, we should make sure we do not waste it. Weighing in on who will represent us, what taxes we will pay and what laws will guide us into the future is a big responsibility, and anyone who does not participate in the process has no right to complain about the result.

This Tuesday, remember that voting is the key to a functioning democracy and that you have a responsibility to participate in the process. Learn about the candidates and issues on the ballot, and vote for the candidates and issues you believe will serve society well.

Early voting hours are available from 1-5 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at county elections board headquarters. Polls will then be open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Make sure you do your part and find the time to vote.