By now, you may just want it all to come to an end so your favorite TV shows aren’t littered with political ads, your mailbox filled with fliers for the candidates and the Opinion page of your local newspaper back to “normal” without all the election-related letters to the editor.

But today — Election Day 2019 — is important, just as every election day is. Today, hundreds of thousands of your fellow Virginians will be heading to the polls to cast ballots in hundreds of state and local races and decide “Yae” or “Nay” in any number of local referenda. Today, we see democracy in action, and we can take part.

Polls opened at 6 this morning and will close at 7 this evening. Voting only takes a matter of minutes, if that. Just be sure to bring a photo ID with you when you check in.

Here in Southside Virginia, there are a number of important races for local and state offices on the ballot.

Control of the General Assembly hangs in the balance. Republicans currently hold narrow margins in both chambers that Democrats have chipping away at since the 2017 House of Delegates election. Important issues such as gun safety laws, redistricting reform and health care reform hang in the balance depending on which party comes out on top.

Two House districts and one Senate district are being contested. In the 14th House District, incumbent Danny Marshall is trying to vend off a challenge from Eric Stamps for re-election for another 2-year term. In the 16th District, incumbent Les Adams and challenger Dustin Evans are squaring. In the Senate, the 20th District, incumbent Bill Stanley and challenger Sherman Witcher are doing battle. Check out for nonpartisan election information on the races.

There are a few contested local races.

In Henry County, there are only two, with the highest profile having emerged as a 3-way battle for sheriff among 3-term incumbent Lane Perry and two experienced opponents, John Cassell and Jerry Farmer. On the Henry County School Board, Cherie Joyce Whitlow of Collinsville and Shelira D. Morrison of Axton are vying for the member-at-large seat.

But in Patrick County there are three contested seats on the Board of Supervisors. Clyde M. DeLoach is taking on incumbent Karl Von Weiss for the Blue Ridge District, C. Clayton Kendrick Jr. is challenging incumbent W.L. “Lock” Boyce in the Mayor River District, and Keith A. Puckett and Denise Litten Stirewalt are running in the Peters Creek District. Shannon Royall Harrell also is challenging incumbent Ronnie N. Terry for the Blue Ridge District seat on the school board.

The ability of Americans to elect their own representatives to political office is a right we often take for granted. We shouldn’t. Hundreds of millions — nay, billions — of people around the globe lack this fundamental political right and are mere subjects of their governments. Americans, on the contrary, are masters of their own fates with the power of the ballot in hand. Exercise that right today.

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