Many people take for granted that they're registered to vote, even if they haven't cast ballots in the past election cycle. That's a naive frame of mind - and one that could prevent citizens from exercising their constitutional right to help choose their elected officials.
Today - Friday, Feb. 7 - is the last day to register for the presidential primary, slated for Tuesday, March 3. Absentee balloting begins a few days earlier. Although President Trump is all but assured of coming out on top in every Republican primary across the country, Democrats have some tougher decisions to make.
But potential voters can't weigh in if they aren't registered.
Voter purges are mandated every so often, and technically speaking, most people realize that. But it only became a national issue a few years ago, when people in other states realized they had become disenfranchised. Oklahoma's election system is comparatively sound and very efficient, so few instances of suspicious purges have been reported - and certainly not in Cherokee County, which has enjoyed a series of very competent Election Board secretaries.
But there is more action on tap before the presidential primary, in some Cherokee County school districts. Especially with the complaints circulating about certain superintendents' salaries, it's incumbent upon voters in those districts to make their voices heard when it comes to choosing school board members.
Elections in three districts will take place Tuesday, April 7: Jami Lynn Murphy and Michael Lynn, for Seat No. 3 in Grand View; Lori Jo Tinnin and Jennifer A. Jones, for Seat No. 3 in Lowrey; and Shannon Tate Robertson and Jay Myres, for Seat No. 1 in Briggs.
The candidates who filed in Cherokee County's eight other districts are being seated - or reseated - without challenge. That includes two seats in Tahlequah. These board elections are nonpartisan.
It's worth noting that although there are no independents or Libertarians on the presidential ballots, the Democratic Party is allowing those voters to vote in its primaries. This means independents do have a primary voice, and they might as well use it - since Trump doesn't appear to need their help. And Libertarians will choose a presidential candidate at their national convention in May.
Many people are naturally pessimistic when it comes to elections, and insist their votes don't count. That's just not true. Over the years, a number of races in Cherokee County have been decided by one or two votes.
And although Libertarians often say the old saw that "you can't complain about the politician if you didn't vote" isn't really true, it's still a good idea to do your research, and take the time to vote. Do your part.