We hope you voted

It’s election time in the United States, and citizens across the county headed to the polls to decide who will govern their local towns, counties, states and federal government over the course of the next year or number of years. As always, we hope everyone got out and voted. Everyone should do their civic duty and participate in the process. Remember, if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain!
Even if you don’t think your vote makes a difference, you should vote. But, we are here to tell you—your vote does matter. It was only four years ago that Gov. Kristi Noem narrowly defeated Billie Sutton to become governor of South Dakota. That was a relatively razor-thin vote, and every vote definitely counted in that election.
If you want a local example, over the past dozen or so years, we have had a pair of elections that ended in ties, and subsquently, a coin toss or dice throw to determine the winner. It happened a few years ago in the race for a seat on the Custer School District Board of Education, and it happened again more recently when Todd Pechota and Carrie Moore tied in the race for a seat on the Custer City Council. That one ended with the roll of dice, which Pechota won.
It has never been easier to register to vote. Most states offer the ability to register to vote online, and the process takes less than five minutes. You can vote in U.S. elections if you are a U.S. citizen, meet your state’s residency requirements and ar e 18 years old on or before Election Day. Check out National Voter Registration Day’s website and Vote.org, where you can get instructions on registering, no matter what state you live in.
 The website southwestkey.org gives a list of reasons to vote, among which is while you may not realize it, your life is affected by government, laws, and elected representatives every day. There are people making decisions that affect your life and you have the power to choose who’s making these decisions on your behalf. They must answer to you, not the other way around.
Perhaps the biggest reason the website lists is one we certainly agree with. People have given their lives for this country, and so that you can cast a vote. Voting is one of the few opportunities where you can have a direct impact on your community. There wouldn’t have been a suffrage movement or a 24th amendment if voting didn’t matter.
Take advantage of the tools that your state and county provide for you. Most ballots include short summaries of candidates’ beliefs and stances on issues, as well as short descriptions of ballot measures and their effects. If you’re having trouble deciding during an election, consider reviewing a ballot guide before the election. Sometimes, these are available at the polling station. Try choosing your top three issues or concerns with government and look for candidates who line up with those priorities.
Your vote most certainly matters! Be sure to always get out and vote! And to all the candidates who ran for office, it takes bravery to enter the political fray in this day and age. For that, we salute you.

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