A guest blog post by State Rep. Kathleen Clyde: Why voting in Ohio’s Primary Election is so vital, this year and always

By Kathleen Clyde

As the clock struck midnight on December 31, we ushered in 2016. And, like many Americans, many of us made resolutions. If you’re like me, you probably vowed to exercise more and consume less. When the New Year’s revelry subsided, the official countdown to the 2016 election began. As the election season heats up this year, let’s make this our resolution—to go out and exercise our right to vote.

Ohioans get their first chance to vote this year in the March 15 statewide primary. Let’s be honest, we haven’t always shown up for primaries. In 2014, less than 20 percent of Ohioans cast a primary ballot. What about 2012 and 2008 during historic presidential election years? Still less than half of all registered Ohioans voted in the primary. If Ohioans want to shape the policy priorities that will drive this next decade, we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines during this election season, especially when selecting our parties’ nominees during the primary.

Let’s talk basics. With the primary less than two weeks out, early voting is already underway. Ohioans can visit their local board of elections during posted hours to cast an early ballot or wait until Election Day to vote at their neighborhood precinct. You can visit MyOhioVote.com to check your registration, locate your polling place, request an absentee ballot and find out more about the primary election in your community.

Anyone who is registered to vote can cast a ballot. With a semi-open primary, voting is easy. Simply walk into the polling place and declare which party ballot you want. Ohioans do not have to be registered with a party in advance.

Much is made over the influence of money in politics, but nothing speaks louder than the ballot box. There, the minimum-wage worker is equal to the hedge-fund manager. That’s the beauty of our democracy– when it comes down to it, everyone has an equal say. That’s real power.

We also have the power to educate others. It’s our duty to talk with our families, friends and neighbors about the importance of this election. By staying home or not talking with fellow voters, we will backslide on all the real progress we have made in recent years.

There is an old saying: “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” Year after year, elections are won and lost in Ohio. It’s the most sought after battleground state and the pathway to the presidency. That path begins with our primary. We as Ohioans have the opportunity to define the terms of this election. Primaries matter because they give us the opportunity to align ourselves, and our respective parties, with the candidates we see best representing our values.

So, as we settle down on our couches to watch the next round of debates or research our favorite candidates, let’s make a promise this year to exercise more and consume less by exercising our right to vote and consuming less of the destructive notion that voting and primaries don’t matter.

Early voting stations are open in your county:

8am to 5pm through this Friday, March 4

8am to 4pm this Saturday, March 5

8am to 7pm next Monday through Friday

8am to 4pm next Saturday, March 12

1pm to 5pm next Sunday, March 13

8am to 2pm on Monday, March 14

On Election Day, March 15, polls are open from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. So get out and vote early today or on March 15!

Kathleen Clyde is a State Representative serving Ohio’s 75th House District. As a member of the Ohio Future Caucus and a Young Democrat, Clyde is a fierce advocate for the rights of voters and young Ohioans.

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Commit to vote in the Ohio Primary!