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Our Thoughts: Time to vote
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This may be the toughest year yet for the voter.

Both major party candidates for President offer change — one candidate might be the least political president and the other our first female commander in chief. The third party candidate shows the strongest support in recent history.

This is too big to ignore.

A vote for the candidate you think is best — or at least not the worst — is more important than ever. It seems America is at a crossroads.

But, aside from the presidential race that gets so much attention, there are many local reasons why this year’s vote is important.

Several amendments are on this year’s ballot that will affect Georgia well into the future, including the Opportunity School District, which has garnered much recent attention concerning claims that the state could take failing schools over from individual districts. There are three other proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, including penalties for sexual exploitation and assessments on adult entertainment to fund child victims’ services; reforms and re-establishment of the Judicial qualifications Commissioners; and a dedication of revenue from existing taxes on fireworks to trauma care, fire services and public safety.

There are also races for United States Senate and a U.S. Representative, along with state public service commissioner, senators and representatives.

In Newton County, voters will decide on their next county chair, tax commissioner and coroner. Other offices are on this year’s ballot, and even though they are uncontested races — such as sheriff, district attorney, probate judge, clerk of superior court and more — the candidates will need at least one vote to claim victory.

If you have not decided on these local elections, we suggest you do the research and become an educated voter. Read the coverage this newspaper has provided on candidates and issues in previous editions as well as what will be published in the coming weeks. Seek out opportunities to talk to candidates. Participate in discussions on the issues in order to learn more.

For those who have already decided, they have to wait no more. Early voting starts Monday.

Polls open at 8 a.m. at the Newton County Administration Building, 1113 Usher Street, staying open until 5 p.m. at that location. Starting on October 31, residents can also vote early from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Porter Memorial Branch of the Newton County Library System, 6191 Highway 212.

Voters have one Saturday at which to cast their early vote – October 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Newton County Administration Building.

With the pull of a constant work schedule, busy home life and more activities than ever available to us, getting to the polls on the first Tuesday in November is a tough task.

Early voting provides plenty of chances to pick a time when the rush isn’t on to cast your ballot.

In March, 43.18 percent of the local registered voters (22,149) cast a ballot in the presidential primary. That election narrowed the presidential field down from several Republican candidates and Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

In the May Primary, three Commission seats and party candidates for the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners were decided by just 18.49 percent of Newton County voters. Only 9,878 people wanted the right to decide who could make decisions for our county and lead our community.

Newton County needs to do better.

We encourage anyone who is registered to vote – we are speaking directly to you, one of the 71,059 Newton County residents that are registered to vote — to head to the Newton County Administration Building, Porter Memorial library, or clear their schedules for Nov. 8.

We urge you to exercise your right and to rock the vote.