Do your homework, then vote

First time voter Keyahn Vedadi waits to cast his ballot on the first day of early voting at the Bartholomew County Courthouse in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Oct, 12, 2016. Vedadi, a 2016 Columbus North graduate, voted early because he is moving to Florida for college before election day. Mike Wolanin | The Republic
First time voter Keyahn Vedadi waits to cast his ballot on the first day of early voting at the Bartholomew County Courthouse in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Oct, 12, 2016. Vedadi, a 2016 Columbus North graduate, voted early because he is moving to Florida for college before election day. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Fall brings cooler temperatures, changing leaves and a proliferation of campaign signs. Yes, it’s an election year. While the presidential campaign inundates the news, many other positions will also be decided this November.

In Indiana, we will be voting for governor, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, United States representatives and a senator, state senators and state representatives. In Bartholomew County, we will also be voting for judge, coroner, surveyor, county commissioners, county council members, town officials and school board members.

Most of us have opinions on the presidential candidates, but how many of us know the positions of the candidates for our state and local positions or even know who these candidates are? Go to indianavoters.com to find out who is on your ballot and then take some time to learn about the candidates. Review their views on issues that are important to you, so you can make an informed decision when you cast your vote.

It can be easy to feel like your vote doesn’t really matter when it’s just one of millions in the presidential race. However, in our local races your vote has more impact, which makes it even more important that you research the candidates. Also, local leaders make decisions that affect us more directly, necessitating careful consideration of those running for office.

Finding information on state and local candidates can be difficult. The website vote-in.org allows you to enter your address and then compare federal and state candidates. Links to candidates’ websites are provided as well candidate positions on some issues. The Republic primarily provides coverage of our local races. Candidates for each position are asked the same questions and their responses are reported, so keep an eye out for those articles, which begin today.

Once you have information on each candidate, you must decide what is important to you. Is a candidate’s position on education more important than their position on the economy or are they equally important? Do you value a conservative or a liberal approach, or are you somewhere in the middle?

Other factors to consider are a candidate’s character, their past experience and their ability to work with others. Politics requires those of differing views to collaborate on solutions.

Being able to consider other views respectfully thus becomes an important quality in a candidate, especially in today’s divisive political atmosphere.

Once you have decided who to vote for, make sure you go vote. Election day is Nov. 8, when the polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. You may vote at any of the vote centers in the county. Additionally, you can vote early starting Oct 12 at the County Courthouse and at several of the vote centers the week before the election. You can find a list of vote centers and the early voting hours at bartholomew.in.gov. You can also request an absentee ballot at indianavoters.com if that works better for you.

Please take the time to educate yourself about all of the candidates on your ballot and then vote for your choices. Your vote does matter.

Susan Cox is one of The Republic’s community columnists, and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. She is a mother, an adjunct instructor of English at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus and a substitute teacher for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. She can be reached at editorial@therepublic.com.