This November, we, as a country of individuals, will be selecting our leadership team for the next few years, and in making certain your voice is heard from here to Washington and back, there are two things you must do: register to vote and cast a ballot.
You have until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 9 to register if you are more comfortable with a classic scenario.
Working inside this timeline will, for most Americans, guarantee your ballot is included in the traditional election night tallies shared from local board of elections postings to the national stage as our next president will be selected.
The glue that holds this form of government together begins with the individual and his or her respective willingness to freely cast a secret ballot in an election designed to create a group of political leaders and practices through which government will operate in the immediate future.
Casting your personal vote in an election is one of those privileges that has been bought and paid for in the blood, sweat, tears and lives of thousands of Americans - civilian and military alike - since before our nation had any form of government.
The individual right to vote is not something to be taken for granted or taken lightly.
Important Phone Numbers
Belmont County Board of Elections
Jefferson County Board of Elections
Harrison County Board of Elections
Monroe County Board of Elections
A renewed focus on improving voter registration and voter turn-out at the election polls are two key components of the day in and day out efforts of the work done by many of our nation's unsung heroes of the political process: those who staff the respective County Boards of Elections and polling places.
If that timetable still does not accommodate your schedule, consider selecting one of several less traditional methods for casting a ballot which have been developed in recent years to address increasingly complex demands of everyday life for Ohioans.
Each year it seems there are more and more options available to Americans wanting to exercise their individual right to vote.
This year the opportunity to vote during non-traditional hours is being made available statewide beginning during the first week of October.
Specific details can be had by checking with your local board of elections or the Ohio Secretary of State's office via www.OhioSecretaryofState. gov.
"This year, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has directed that all registered voters in the State of Ohio will receive an absentee ballot application in the mail. Those were initially put in the mail Friday, Aug. 31, and they will be arriving at voters home addresses within the next few days," offered Bill Schubat, Belmont County Board of Elections director. "A second mailing will be started in early October which will carry absentee ballot applications to Ohio voters who registered to vote after Aug. 6 or who updated their information after that date."
Ohio is the only state making this all encompassing effort to get a ballot into the hands of every registered voter in the state, other than two states which only provide voters with mail-in options.
"All a person needs to do to take advantage of the flexibility afforded by using an absentee ballot is to complete the application and mail it back within a certain timeframe that is explained on the form," said Schubat.
The process will cost each voter a sixty-five cent stamp.
"Starting on Oct. 2, the actual absentee ballots will be sent out to individual voters who successfully applied for the right to use the absentee form," offered Schubat.
"Whether a person decides to mail it back in or decides they want to walk in the front door of their polling place to deliver it, as long as it is in the hands of election officials by 7:30 p.m. on election night, it will be counted," explained Schubat.
If you have completely forgotten to register to vote at all and want to take part in the election in November, there is a means for that to happen legally too. Bring current personal identification with you to the board of elections and ask to register and to cast a ballot.
The ballots cast as provisional votes will be held apart from those which are entered in a traditional manner. During the 10 days after the election, all provisional votes will be individually reviewed to make sure whatever information needed updating or initially filed was done so correctly and the records are current.
The provisional vote will then be counted.
Completing the absentee ballot application is simple and requires the individual to complete only three requests for information - a form of valid identification, date of birth and signature.
If you have ever experienced not being certain about where to cast your ballot, there is no reason to panic. Simply ask a poll worker to help you confirm where you are to go to vote. The last four digits of your social security number and your address are essentially the basics you will need for that information to be verified for you - allowing you to easily head to the right place to vote.
If you have a question or two, to ask a poll worker. You just might be surprised to see a 17 or 18 year old high school student sitting behind the table at your precinct. Don't act surprised, however, if they are readily able to answer your question about the voting process, as each has undergone a three-hour course preparing them for this activity.
Since the mid-1990s, Ohio teens in government classes have been invited to participate in the process as poll workers.
"They should express their interest to their teacher and that educator can get in touch with us here at the board of elections to see what we can do to arrange training and get them involved in the process as poll workers," explained Schubat.
"If you voted in 2009 and did not vote in 2010 or 2011, you are still a registered voter and are on the rolls," said Schubat.
Residents of riverfront communities in the immediate area, including Belmont, Jefferson and Monroe Counties, have consistently shown a greater willingness to turn out to vote than many of the larger cities across the state.
"The people who live in our riverfront counties are always very interested in casting their own vote for the people they want to represent them in government," said Schubat. "They are also very good about letting others know where they stand on the issues that make their way to the ballot. The kind of voter turn-out we have here is something to be proud of."