Election getting closer

The beginning of October means that the fall election season is really starting to come into focus.

We’re two years into the presidency of Donald Trump, and for that reason alone, there’s been a great deal of emphasis placed on the mid-term races at the federal level. Depending on your perspective, how people across the country vote on Nov. 6 will either be a step toward righting the course of the nation or ensuring that the country continues on the path laid out by the president.

Either choice, remember, will have ramifications that are likely to last for years.

Every member of the House of Representatives is up for election this year, as are several senators, including one each in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Ohio also will choose a replacement for Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, who is leaving office because of term limits.

Plus, there are numerous local races and ballot issues to consider.

There’s been a great deal of talk about the importance of voting this year. It’s encouraging, because the more participation you can get at the polls, the better the government is likely to function. This year, though, should be no different than any year — each election is important, and the choices made can have a real affect on your life. They can, for example, change how much you pay in taxes. They can change the laws and rules we all have to live by. They can make it easier for you to enjoy a drink at your local restaurant.

That said, there are constant reminders all around us that talk, as the saying goes, remains cheap — while many, many people will tell you they are going to be sure and vote when election season comes around, the reality is around half of those people who are eligible to do so will cast ballots. And that’s an even smaller number of those who could actually vote.

So, how do you make a difference, not only in this election, but in referendums down the road?

You have to be registered to vote. And if you are not, you are really running out of time.

In Ohio, the registration deadline is 9 p.m. Tuesday. The Jefferson County Board of Elections, located in the Towers on Market Street in Steubenville, will be open from 9 a.m. to that deadline. If you live in Harrison County, the board of elections will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

West Virginia residents have a little more time — the deadline to register in the Mountain State is Oct. 16.

Absentee voting in Ohio already is under way for those in the military, and begins Wednesday for everyone else. It’s also possible to cast your ballot early in person at the board of elections, beginning Wednesday. That period includes Saturday hours on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 and Sunday hours on Nov. 4. In-office voting closes at 2 p.m. Nov. 5.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or Democrat; a liberal, a conservative, a socialist, a libertarian or none of the above — what’s important is that you register, you vote and you make your voice heard.

Just make sure yours is an informed vote. During the next several weeks we’ll be publishing profiles about candidates involved in local, regional and statewide races, as well as stories about some of the many issues that will appear on ballots across our region. You’ll also have the opportunity to attend several political forums that will be presented by different organizations.

Included among those will be the political forum sponsored by the Ohio Valley Business and Professional Women Oct. 18 at Eastern Gateway Community College. The Herald-Star is joining with WTRF-TV and WTOV-TV as media partners for the event, which will begin at 6 p.m. with an informal meet-and-greet session, which will offer a great opportunity to get to know the candidates and their representatives.

The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will include questions for candidates from a media panel, as well as information concerning ballot issues.

It’s a good opportunity to become better informed before you cast your ballot.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)