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Voting elections

Don't let the stirring words about patriotism and sacrifice that we all heard at  Memorial Day services and celebrations fade. Put them into action by voting in Tuesday's primary election or, if you've already marked an absentee ballot, dropping it off at the polls.

Beginning with the American revolution and continuing today with voting rights legal battles, we have struggled and sometimes died to secure the right to govern ourselves.

But lately, Montanans haven't capitalized on that hard-fought privilege.

The highest voter turnout rate in Montana during the last five off-year primary elections was 34 percent, according to the Secretary of State's office. In 1998, just barely more than one in four eligible primary voters cast a ballot. 

Why does this matter?

In races around the state this year — including in Missoula, Ravalli, Lake and Flathead counties — local primaries will decide who is elected in November because only one party has candidates on the ballot. If you don't vote in the primary, you are disenfranchising yourself.

Just as important, primaries send important messages to the party leaders who recruit or support candidates in our political system. If voters reject candidates who support extreme positions as Democrats or Republicans, they are sending an important message about who the parties should be backing going forward.

If you've ever complained about the choices you're offered on ballots, this is your chance to register your objection. And if you're offended by outside interests pouring money into the state to influence our choices, this is how you can make your voice heard.

Don't waste this opportunity. Vote.

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