More is at stake in this midterm election than any in memory, demonstrating why the cliche, "every vote counts," is true.
Just a few hundred votes in one state could decide which political party will control Congress for two years. That's huge - for if Democrats keep control of the Senate or take control of the House, or both, President George W. Bush's domestic, foreign and judicial agendas will be stalemated for two more years.
If Republicans can maintain control of the House and win back the Senate, then the nation could move ahead on Bush's agendas.
Here's the rub. Close Senate and House races in both Georgia and South Carolina could be decisive in determining which party will rule Congress until 2004.
Hence, you're not only voting for the congressional candidates of your choice, you're also voting for which political party you want to control Washington's legislative agenda. So don't believe for even one moment your vote doesn't count. It could very well decide the nation's future for the next two years, at least.
But exciting congressional contests and voting for whom you want to run Washington is only half the story of today's elections.
A potpourri of key issues and distinctive candidates for voters to mull over mark our two-state area elections as well. There are too-close-to-call races for a host of constitutional offices in both states, including governor and several critical legislative seats.
Again, just a handful of votes in a few districts here and there could determine the future of both the Peach and Palmetto states.
And a good part of Augusta's future very well may hinge on the outcome of the tight-as-a-drum five-candidate mayoral contest.
With so much for voters to get fired up about today, we're not surprised election officials expect a larger than usual turnout - possibly up to 60 percent of registered voters (compared to a little over 50 percent four years ago.)
We hope no would-be voters will be put off by the new electronic voting system. Rest assured, it is a good deal less complicated to operate than a microwave oven; besides which there are helpers at all polling places who can answer any question voters may have.
There's no excuse not to vote unless you're not registered.
Let's be clear. People who say elections aren't relevant to their lives are just plain wrong - and this election more than most proves the point.
Those who don't vote are not only ducking a civic duty, they're missing a wonderful opportunity to influence events and participate in the democratic process. Let's not ever forget, the right to vote is one of the precious freedoms countless Americans have fought and died for since the founding of the republic.
Listed below are the candidates we believe will best serve the state or community if they're elected. Yet, what's most important isn't whether you agree with our considered judgment but that you form your own judgment and vote accordingly. If our recommendations encourage you to do that, then we've done our job.
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