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Don’t waste your chance to vote

This is Election Day. And if you have yet to cast your ballot, get going. The polls are open until 8 p.m.

True, this mid-term election does not carry the swagger and glitz of a presidential race, but it is just as important. Today, many Americans will elect members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. The successful candidates will play roles in the way America defends itself, taxes its citizens, spends money and provides human services. That’s the short list.

Depending on how it all turns out, party control of the House and Senate could change hands. Should that occur, the balance of power in congressional chambers might change the way President Barack Obama handles his job.

Pennsylvanians, meanwhile, will elect a governor and members of the General Assembly — the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Specifically, Valley residents will elect a replacement for state Sen. J. Barry Stout, a Bentleyville Democrat who will retire at year’s end. Stout has long been a powerful advocate for transportation and especially the Mon/Fayette Expressway. The freshman senator who replaces Stout will face a daunting task in terms of building power and making connections.

The next General Assembly will be working with a new governor, hopefully one who is a consensus-builder. After eight years of bitter budget battles under Gov. Ed Rendell, that would be welcome. The Legislature, next year, also must determine the level of taxation — if any — that will be imposed on companies that extract natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation.

Local election officials are expecting a light turnout today. In America, where free elections are vital to our representative republic, that’s sad news. You have the right — and the responsibility — to vote today. If you haven’t, it’s not too late.

Get going.


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