Unless you’ve given up on all forms of media for the last six months, you are well aware that we are in the midst of the presidential election season. The primary and caucus process throughout the United States is at about its halfway point, with many states with elections still on the calendar until the first part of June 2016. After June (and maybe earlier) the Democratic, Republican and Third Party nominees for President will be set and the campaigns will turn their attention to the general election that will be held all over the country on November 8, 2016.

While the Presidential campaigns get the lion’s share of the headlines in the national, state and local media, there are also elections for many state and local public offices on the ballot in the primaries in both Ohio and West Virginia. Of course, whoever is elected President of the United States will have an impact on our lives in the U.S. because that person and his or her administration will have a primary role in developing our country’s social and economic policy for the next four years. In fact, if you are an Ohio voter, your choice for President seems to really matter as Ohio has picked the winner of 28 of the 30 presidential elections since 1896.

However, you and I are much more likely to be personally affected by the people elected to be our local and state public officials and it is important to exercise your right to vote and to choose wisely. In the very near future you will have the opportunity to vote in Ohio’s Primary that is today, March 15, 2016, and in West Virginia’s Primary that will be held on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.

The offices on your particular ballot to vote for in the Ohio Primary will be based upon your party affiliation and will determine which candidates will face off in the general election in November. In our daily lives, we are much more likely to need the assistance of the individuals that hold these local offices than we will the President or our Senators and Congresspersons. For instance, when you buy or sell a car you will need to visit the county Clerk of Courts Title Division and it is the county Treasurer that collects your property taxes. While it is too late to register to vote in the Ohio primary, you still have until October 11, 2016, to register for the November General Election. If you do not know where you need to go to vote in either the March Primary or the November General elections, contact your county Board of Elections or go to www.MyOhioVote.com where you will find a lot of great resources and information about Ohio’s elections.

In West Virginia, the primary will include offices that will nominate candidates from each party for the November general election, but it will also include judicial offices and the board of education where your choice on May 10, 2016, will be final. Yes, for the first time in West Virginia, judges will be elected on a nonpartisan basis and in the primary. This means that the judges will be elected on May 10, 2016, (not in November!) and will serve for 12 years if elected to the Supreme Court of Appeals, for 8 years if elected to the Circuit Court, for 8 years if elected to the Family Court, and for 4 years if elected to the Magistrate Court. So, it is important to make sure that you vote in both the Primary and General elections. If you are not already registered to vote in West Virginia, you have until April 19, 2016, to register for the Primary. You can register to vote by either contacting your County Clerk or by going to https://ovr.sos.wv.gov/Register to register online.

And, since I mentioned the County Clerk, if you are wondering if your vote matters, just look at the last election for Wood County Clerk in 2014. In that election, with more than 20,000 votes cast the current Wood County Clerk was elected by five votes! By the way, the County Clerk is the keeper of the records in the county and you will need that office’s assistance to obtain a marriage license, a copy of a birth certificate, find a deed or probate a will.

I encourage each and every reader to exercise their right to vote and to bring a friend or two! Your vote does matter!