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CULTON: Make your vote count

The year 2020 is almost over — some would say thankfully — but for many southwest Michigan residents, the most important thing they will do all year is yet to come.

That thing is, of course, voting. Election day is right around the corner, and it’s time for all of us to share our voice through our ballots.

Before Nov. 3 gets here, this is my plea: whether you decide to send in your ballot early through the mail or stand in line at the polls on election day, please vote.  How this election plays out will affect all of our lives for years to come. Voting is an American right — one hard fought for by our predecessors — and we ought to start treating it like one.

In 2016, only 63 percent of Michigan’s more than 7 million eligible voters cast a ballot, according to the Office of Secretary of State. This election, I believe we can do better — we must do better. There is too much at stake in this election to merely passively allow others to decide our future. We have to take an active role in the democratic process by casting a vote and making our voices heard.

I understand that, for many, elections are a confusing time, and it can be challenging to know where to start. Thankfully, our area is full of great resources to help make casting your ballot as smooth and painless as possible.

If you have questions about the voting process, our local clerks have a wealth of information and are happy to help put you on the right track. Dowagiac’s clerk, Patty Patano, can be reached at cityclerk@dowagiac.org, while Niles’ clerk, Linda Casperson, can be reached at cityclerk@nilesmi.org.

If you need more information on local candidates before you cast your vote, keep an eye out Saturday for Leader Publications’ voter guide, where we gave candidates across southwest Michigan the chance to share more about their platform before the election.

Take time to educate yourself on candidates, policy and millages before you cast your vote. No matter who you choose to vote for, you are performing an essential civic duty and helping to shape southwest Michigan’s future.

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