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The ball is in your court. Now get out and vote COMMENTARY TOM BIGlER

AT LONG last, the day of decision is at hand.

On Tuesday, adult Americans will demonstrate their acceptance of the responsibility that is placed upon us all by our membership in this democratic society. Tuesday is the day each of us is to cast our ballot for our selection of those candidates whom we want to represent us in our government.

Although there are millions of us, every ballot counts.

One example is that a person who fails to vote gives someone else the equivalent of two votes and often for someone he or she may not have supported.

It hasn’t been easy to make the choices. The recent distractions have included a welter of insulting political advertisements on the radio, television, in the magazines, and in your daily newspaper. It seems that every one of those advertisements demonstrates that anything goes in politics.

At the same time, it is necessary to realize that the polls of public opinion about candidates and issues may reflect general sentiment of the moment. However, not only can those numbers change, but relying on the data to the degree that it inhibits your vote and convinces you that you can’t change the outcomes would defeat not only the pollsters, but yourself.

Remember that your vote does count.

If nothing else, the plethora of political advertisements demonstrates a phrase that most of us pray is false: “Elections are bought.” This year, hundreds of millions of dollars have been collected and spent on behalf of the candidates -- and there are many of them.

Nationwide at least 16 states -- one third of the total number of seats -- are electing their state’s representative in the U.S. Senate. In the House of Representatives, all of the seats are up for election. But, of course, each of us is limited to voting for the representative from the congressional district in which we live.

In addition, in Pennsylvania, the governor’s chair is up for vote and one-half of the 50 seats in the state Senate are up for election. Again, all 203 seats in the state House of Representatives will be determined by the voters on Tuesday.

At the federal and state levels, the test of your selection could come early in January, when the newly elected are sworn in and seated.

At the federal level, there have been many pending bills for the members to decide that could have a very significant impact on the country for years to come. Decisions about such important legislation will likely be delayed or hampered by highly partisan social issues that inevitably distract the public from the more complex problems such as how to fix Medicare, how to climb out of the great black hole of national debt we find ourselves in, and how to rebuild fractured foreign relations.

Similarly at the state level, we expect to see a test to move to reform the Pennsylvania legislature and the conduct of the members reaching their decisions. For example, there is one pending proposal to reduce the size of the legislature.

Another would establish regulations for lobbyists and the amount of money they contribute to a member on behalf of an issue. Significantly, Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that does not have such regulation.

Of course, there also is the perennial proposal that would substitute sales tax for the property tax or even for personal income tax.

But then the multitude of issues that our representatives will face is not uncommon, but reflective of an active and creative force within our nation.

In any case and regardless of the fog of political advertising that has settled over all forms of mass communication, the general public has ample alternative sources in their newspapers, magazines, radio and television to educate them about the candidates.

For example, this newspaper has provided at least one news-feature story per day in the past several weeks that profiles every candidate for whom local voters may vote, and articulated the positions they take on issues important to the community, state and nation.

We’ve done our part. The decision is entirely up to you. See you at the polls.

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