We’re holding a primary election on Tuesday. You should vote.
That’s the sort of thing we always say. (Because you should always vote.)
But this year, we mean it even more. You should really vote on Tuesday.
In part, your vote will be a vote of confidence for an exceptional year for democracy — especially for Pennsylvania’s congressional districts.
The state Supreme Court, in overturning the state’s gerrymandered map and drawing more sensible districts, stimulated a new sense of competition. And candidates rushed to get on the ballot in Southeastern Pennsylvania’s new districts.
So now, in areas where members of the House were once reliably assured of re-election, we have open seats or incumbents facing qualified challengers.
>> READ MORE: Pennsylvania Primaries 2018: Endorsement Guide
Why waste a chance to weigh in on all that by staying home?
This year was already shaping up for healthy voter turnout. The results of the 2016 presidential election sparked a new energy and interest in politics and policy.
That is proving out with a wealth of new female candidates, looking to change the fact that Pennsylvania has not sent a woman to the House since former U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz left office in 2015. This influx matches a nationwide trend.
But don’t vote for a candidate simply because of gender. Or their political party. Or because they ran the only television commercial you saw this election season.
With this abundance of options comes a responsibility for voters to educate themselves. Check to see if you are in a new district. Read up on the candidates. And browse the voter guide compiled by the Committee of Seventy, a good-government watchdog group.
Now, more than ever, we need a well-informed electorate making clear-eyed choices.
>> READ MORE: Pa. primary election 2018: Voters guide
Nothing beats that back better than Americans with a well-versed sense of civic duty.
While a healthy voter turnout is forecast for Tuesday, not every primary sparks so much interest. This is a good time to be thinking about increasing access to the polls.
State House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R., Indiana) this month began soliciting support for proposed government reform measures. One of them would allow voters registered as independent or not affiliated with a political party to cast ballots in primary elections.
Currently, nearly 750,000 non-affiliated voters are banned from participating in primaries. That means nearly 9 percent of the state’s 8.5 million voters go unheard in these elections.
New Jersey is also exploring more ways to encourage voting, including early ballot-casting and expanding vote-by-mail for any reason.
Increasing turnout in elections would further enhance competition, giving us a better crop of candidates from which to choose.
Former President Barack Obama last year paraphrased an ancient bit of wisdom about elections — “You get the politicians you deserve.”
That puts the responsibility on voters, where it belongs. On Tuesday, ask yourself: What do you deserve from your government. Then go vote.