Election Time: Key dates draw near for voters, and for potential candidates

The heavy attention that presidential politics receives in the media this year can draw attention away from other important election-year matters.

The filing deadline for the May 17 Primary Election is drawing near.

That date is March 8, and anyone interested in running should contact County Elections or the Secretary of State’s website for details.

The idea of running for a state or local office may seem daunting in a time when caucuses, delegate tallies, televised debates, PACs, and super-primaries garner so much scrutiny in the media.

But this election year, as important as it is for the nation as a whole, is also about local elective positions — including numerous precinct committee positions.

At that grassroots level, or higher, the March 8 deadline creates an opportunity for people to step up and try to make a difference.

Granted, many of the positions on the ballot essentially pre-screen the field by virtue of the special qualifications that are either required or inherent to the position. That is, not everyone can run for Distract Attorney or Sheriff or a Circuit Court Judge position.

But ultimately any preselection is up to the individual. For any position on any ballot, it is up to each citizen to determine his or her preparedness or qualifications — and to remain open to the possibility of this kind of public service.

No positions are on the ballot for school boards or other special districts, but for anyone considering getting a local start in public service, it’s not too early to look ahead to 2018.

We cannot all be candidates, but most of us can be voters, and now is also the time to look ahead to the other key deadline connected to the May 17 Primary Election: the date to register to vote.

It’s April 26 — also the last day for current voters to change affiliation.

Voters also have plenty of time to make sure they have that other small item needed to participate — a postage stamp. Legislation suggesting that the state pay voters’ postage to send back their ballot should be discarded in Salem before any more time is wasted considering it. The idea that Joe or Jane Voter need government to pay for them to put a stamp on their ballot envelope is both an unwise use of public funds and diminishment of the very idea, let alone practice, of citizen involvement in the political process.

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