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Voting in a big, big deal, and too many of us waste our most precious right because they say it doesn’t matter; they say they’re tired; they say they can’t cut through the rhetoric to get to where candidates really stand; they say … nothing, in the end, when they stay home instead of voting.

Without casting a ballot on election day, citizens who stay home are squandering their chance to affect change in their communities, their school districts, and local courtrooms. Like The Journal Times noted today, the big, splashy elections (president, governor) get a higher turnout, but it’s the local race results that have a much more direct impact on citizens’ daily lives.

Can you call your state- and/or federal-level representatives and they answer the phone or even call you back? Nope.

But your local government officials usually live in or near your neighborhood. You see them at the grocery store, at local restaurants and maybe even at church. They know who you are and they answer so directly to you, that elections can come down to a handful of votes. Don’t think so? Ask the candidates in the 5th aldermanic district in Racine who aren’t in the general election.

In Caledonia and Sturtevant, residents will vote on an advisory referendum telling their elected officials if they support the exploration of an independent school district at the same time the entire Racine Unified community decides to either keep the status quo with the current school board or vote in one or two challengers.

The City of Racine has a very real choice in who leads the city for the next four years, and residents in four aldermanic districts will decide who they send to the Common Council, the body responsible for setting policy for everything from which roads projects get approved to parks maintenance to keeping streets clean of debris – for almost 80,000 people.

Not voting in these smaller elections can have big consequences so don’t stay home. Your candidate(s) may not win – that’s how it works in a democracy – but being part of the process never loses its urgency or importance.

So … don’t stay home. Leave earlier for work, get off the couch, take a longer lunch, stop on the way home … whatever you do … make voting Tuesday an imperative part of your day.