Do your duty, exercise your right to vote

IF YOUR HOME OR business were to catch on fire, you’d call the local fire department.

If you’re the victim of a crime, you’d call the local police or sheriff’s department to report the crime and hopefully take action for you.

If there’s a pothole in the street or road in front of your home, you’d call the local public works department – or your alderperson, trustee or board supervisor – to get it fixed.

If you want to hold a family reunion, party or picnic in a local park, you’d contact your local municipal offices to make a reservation.

We all make use of these, and many other services, offered by our local county, town, village or city government at one time or another.

Sadly, however, when it comes time to elect the people who represent us in those local governments and set the policies that those government agencies, departments and employees follow and carry out, most of us sit out.

Voter turnout for elections can vary greatly, depending on issues, personalities and much more, but the general trend is that elections for local offices – held every April in the state of Wisconsin – draw a much lower voter turnout than fall elections for state and federal offices, with the highest turnout coming every four years when we elect a president.

Typically, turnout for the spring election – which is next Tuesday, April 3 – runs in the single digit range or not much more than 10 to 15 percent.

That flies in the face of the fact that the decisions made at the local level affect 100 percent of the voters at some point or another.

The people who are elected next Tuesday are the ones who will make decisions that affect all of us most directly and will be felt in our homes, neighborhoods, communities, businesses and schools.

The people who are elected next Tuesday are the ones whose decisions will have the greatest impact on our day-to-day lives right here where we live – how our children are educated, what the quality of life will be in our hometown, how much our local tax bill will be and much, much more.

Especially in this case, every single vote counts, every single vote matters. Not once, but several times over the past dozen years or so a local race has been decided by random means, such as a draw of cards, when a tie vote has resulted for some office.

Every time that happens, it leads one to wonder what would have been the result if even a few out of the eight or nine out of 10 voters who do not case a ballot had bothered to take a few minutes out of their day to vote – even if by absentee ballot.

A full list of candidates and polling places is included in a special sample ballot section included in today’s Review. Take a few minutes to check out who’s running and where to vote, then go cast your ballot in one election where every single vote truly does matter.

It should not have to be repeated – yet it bears repeating – that voting is the most fundamental and sacred right we as American citizens possess, one that we should exercise the most diligently and with the greatest, most serious thoughtfulness.

Generations before us have fought and died to secure, guarantee and preserve that right for us. Men and women today are in uniform and, in many cases, in harm’s way to continue to ensure us that right.

We must honor them, and honor the heritage and strength of our nation, by continuing to exercise that right Tuesday and in the elections to follow.

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