We often talk about our basic American rights. 

Among those rights is the right to vote. 

We think of our right to cast a ballot as primary to living in an open, free society. 

Sometimes we like to think of the right to vote as a true privilege. 

But with rights and privilege come responsibility, even civic duty. 

All of us owe some allegiance, some civic responsibility to the very government we have created to guarantee and protect our freedoms. 

None of those duties are more inextricably tied to freedom itself than voting in open, free elections. 

Civic duties go beyond merely obeying the law, serving on juries and paying income taxes. 

We are only a self-governed people when we exercise our rights to vote and pick our own leaders. 

Do you participate in democracy? 

Do you exercise your right to vote? 

While this year is an important presidential election year, with the Georgia Presidential Primary now just weeks away, even more important are local elections where the votes we cast impact our daily lives in very tangible ways. 

Interestingly enough, people are far more likely to vote in the Presidential Primary and General Election than they are to cast a ballot in local and state races. 

On March 24, the Democratic and Republican primaries will be held and the deadline for voter registration, required in order to be eligible to vote in the primary, is Feb. 24.

Are you registered? 

Federal, state and local elections will be held May 19 and the ballot is one of the longest slates in quite some time. Voter registration for the May election ends April 20.

Are you registered? 

It is easy to complain about what county commission, the board of education, city council, the Georgia General Assembly, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate or even the President of the United States do or do not do. 

It is quite another thing to help select the people who will hold those offices. 

Voter turnout in our city and county is, frankly, abysmal. 

Turnout will be higher this year because of the Presidential Primary and the General Election in the fall. 

That just makes no sense, whatsoever. 

We do not in any way mean that you should not be a part of picking the President of the United States; of course you should. 

But it is your county commissioner or school board member who will make decisions that directly affect public schools, local infrastructure improvements and, perhaps most importantly, the taxes you pay. 

Yes, voting is a right.

Yes, it is a privilege. 

Still, it is a duty, a civic responsibility that none of us should shirk.

So, we ask one more time: Are you registered? 

If so, will you actually vote? 

Do your civic duty.

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