VOTERS WILL decide the race for president, choose members of Congress and fill leadership roles much closer to home on Tuesday.

Everyone who can, should vote.

Voting is a fundamental, constitutional right. It also is a rare privilege that residents of many nations envy.

Sadly, many Americans fail to vote. Some believe, incorrectly, that their individual vote will have little impact. But every vote counts, and the difference between winners and losers often hinges on a mere handful of votes.

This year the novel coronavirus has fueled safety concerns. Election officials throughout the state have been schooled on how to sanitize polling places and protect voters and election judges from the virus.

Due to those precautions, a trip to the polls should be as safe, perhaps safer, than trips to stores or self-serve fueling sites.

Missouri lawmakers made adjustments that allowed a new form of voting before Election Day. The requirement that early ballots be witnessed by notaries kept this option from being even more popular, but it was a start that the Legislature should improve upon in coming years.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has forecast voter participation rates will be about 70% in Missouri. Even so, that would mean three in 10 eligible voters may abdicate their right vote.

The presidential race is drawing the greatest interest among voters, but is by no means the only reason to cast a ballot. Missourians will select a governor and other statewide officials, elect members of the U.S. House and decide whether to tweak a redistricting plan that was passed by referendum in 2018.

There are some Missouri House and Senate contests at stake, although there are no contested races in this area. In addition, there are many contests for county offices. Nobody should doubt that these “lesser elected positions” can have a great impact on homeowners and taxpayers.

In Northeast Missouri, there should not be long lines on Election Day. County clerks are tasked with giving voters the space to spread out and maintain social distance buffer zones.

Weather forecasts call for mild temperatures on Tuesday.

Voting rights are important every year, but should be especially cherished in the midst of a global pandemic.

The disruptions of COVID-19 have left many Americans feeling isolated and powerless. The simple act of expressing our wishes on a ballot can be therapeutic.

America’s Declaration of Independence eloquently states that “we the people” represent the true power of this democratic republic. Voting is how people’s voices are heard. It’s what reminds elected officials that they work for their constituents.

If you already have cast a ballot through absentee or early voting processes, good for you. If you still have not voted, please take a few minutes Tuesday and exercise this most American of rights.

Recommended for you