Our Views: Vote Tuesday, but please do so as informed citizen

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Monday, March 31, 2014

“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”

—Theodore Roosevelt

Sure, you’ve got a busy schedule this week. But please take time Tuesday to get to your polling place and vote.

However, while voting is a civic duty, it’s an even greater civic responsibility to vote as an informed citizen. So please, if you haven’t done so, spend a little time learning the candidates and issues.

It’s sad that while many people feel inspired to vote in presidential races, fewer than 20 percent of those eligible typically vote in spring elections, when a handful or even a single ballot can make the difference between who wins and loses. People we elect Tuesday are the local leaders who can have the biggest impact on our lives. Municipal officials can decide how much you’ll pay in property taxes and fees such as a wheel tax. They determine how often streets are plowed and rebuilt or where that new fire station might go. These school board members decide whether your children or grandkids need new textbooks or more computers, whether the district should strive to bring in foreign students, and perhaps even whether a school closes.

In the adjacent box are The Gazette editorial board’s recommendations in the Parkview School District referendums and Janesville’s city council and school board races. But please don’t just read our endorsements and consider yourself knowledgeable. Also, don’t just take the advice of your spouse, neighbor or friend, or even the flyer that some special-interest group sent you. Dig deeper.

Fortunately, even if you haven’t kept up with the news, the Internet makes it easier than ever to learn about the candidates and issues. Many candidates today post information or videos online. Gazettextra.com offers a link that can take you to the latest election information, including letters to the editor, all of our election preview stories, and details on how and even where to vote. Rock County has sample ballots at www.co.rock.wi.us/results04012014.

The Janesville League of Women Voters website has links to the local school board candidates forum and YouTube segments of the city council forum.

The Parkview School District website offers factual information about Tuesday’s two-part referendum, including the wording of questions.

Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and all are accessible to people with handicaps.

Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president, died 95 years ago, but his sentiments in the quote above remain true today. Do your duty. Get informed. Then vote Tuesday.

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