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Nows your chance to have your voice heard at the polls
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We wish it would have been a venue full of people at last week’s candidates forum, sponsored by the Effingham Chamber of Commerce and held at the Board of Education’s auditorium.

There are some very important races this summer in the county — one county commission seat will be decided at the July 31 primary, as will the election for tax commissioner, not to mention coroner. Effingham voters also will have a say in two other races that will be determined July 31 — state House District 161 and Ogeechee Judicial Circuit district attorney.

Two other local races will take another step toward their conclusion in the primaries. The at-large chairman post and county commission District 1 seat will have Republican nominees declared from the July 31 results. Each race also has a Democratic candidate, who does not face opposition in the primary.

Voting for a candidate in the July 31 primary doesn’t prevent a voter from choosing another candidate in the November general election. In other words, a Republican can cross party lines and vote for a Democrat at the end of the month, and a Democrat can choose to vote for a Republican candidate in the primary, without having to vote the same way in November. Regardless of party affiliation, either for the day or for a longer term, voters can make their choice known for the transportation special purpose local option sales tax. There are plenty of reasons to vote this month, and the support of the T-SPLOST is one of the most important and far-reaching impacts from the election. You can vote on the T-SPLOST issue without having to take part in either party primary.

But you don’t have to wait until the polls open at 7 a.m. July 31 to cast your ballot. Early and advance voting begins Monday at the elections and registrations office in Springfield (284 Highway 119 South) and at the old Marlow Elementary School. Each location will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. each day through July 27.

There is also one Saturday when voters can cast their choices. Polls will be open July 21 at the elections and registration office and at the old Marlow School from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. that day.

This also will be the first election in the county under new precinct and district lines. Check your voter registration information to find out where to go to vote July 31, if you don’t take advantage of early or absentee voting. You can check for that information on your voter registration card, or you can either visit the Web site or call the elections and registration office at 754-8030.

Take the time to talk to the candidates if they knock on your door. Find out what they think of the issues facing the county and let them know where you stand. Then take part in the American experiment and vote.