Today is Election Day -- perhaps one of the most important midterm elections to come along in a long, long time.
This election is being viewed by many as a test of the Bush administration's policies, particularly the course of the war in Iraq.
This election may well decide which political party controls one or both houses of Congress -- a change that could be expected to have a sizable impact on most Americans.
This election will, in Missouri and other states, decide emotionally charged issues like stem-cell research and increases in the tax on tobacco products and the state's minimum wage.
This election will, in South Dakota and other states, decide issues such as a near-total ban on abortion that, if approved, would surely force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its Roe v. Wade decision.
This election will fill county and legislative positions, setting the course of elected leadership in ways most likely to affect voters where they live.
With all these issues on the ballot, choosing to stay away from polling places today would amount to letting others make our decisions for us -- at a time when much of the world's population yearns for the right to cast ballots in free elections.
Local voters, particularly those who haven't been to the polls in a while, will find some changes today.
Voters should be ready to provide identification even though a new law limiting what sort of ID is needed has been overruled by a court decision. Having your voter registration card or a driver's license or some other form of identification will help speed up the voting process.
Voters will no longer have the option, in Missouri, of voting a straight-party ticket, a quick and simple procedure still preferred by a large number of voters in both major political parties. Instead, voters will have to read their ballots carefully and make choices in each race.
Voters will be handed optically scannable ballots that require filling in circles instead of marking an X or punching a hole. Election workers at each polling place will be glad to provide assistance and answer questions.
Voting is an important function of citizenship. Voting today will give the broadest possible representation of the will of the people -- but only if they find their way to the polls.