Tuesday marks the beginning of fall elections.
No, it is not Election Day as we normally know it, that will still be the first Tuesday in November, but beginning this Tuesday, registered Ohio voters can go to their county board of elections office and vote. In Columbiana County the board of elections office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Although we can see the convenience of being able to vote early and hope that it might encourage the participation of some voters who otherwise might not turn out on the regular Election Day, we wonder if voters will have enough time to be fully educated about the local races and issues a full 35 days before the designated Election Day.
There is a lot to decide this year, especially on who will be the leaders of Ohio for the next four years.
Voters will cast ballots for governor, attorney general, state auditor and treasurer. Also on the ballot are contested races for U.S. senator, congressman and state representative. There are also the state supreme court judgeships on the statewide ballot.
In Columbiana County there are contested races for county commissioner and common pleas court judge.
Important issues for the entire county include a renewal for the Columbiana County Mental Health Services levy and Salem voters will decide on annexation and bed and breakfasts questions as well as an attempt to reinstitute the city's income tax credit for residents who pay the tax in other localities. Leetonia schools once again have an emergency operating levy on the ballot and there are also many road and fire levies, electric aggregation decisions in three townships and the usual contingent of liquor options.
With so many decisions facing them when they walk into the voting booth, we believe voters would be better off using the time left until Nov. 2 educating themselves about the candidates and issues. It is voters' responsibility to arm themselves with enough information to make intelligent decisions at the polls.
At the Morning Journal we try to help by publishing a special pre-election section and by hosting a candidate forum. But neither of these will take place until late October, just before the normal Election Day.
So, if you're thinking of taking advantage of the opportunity to vote early, be sure you're able to make an intelligent decision about candidates and issues that will affect your future. Remember, if you vote early and change your opinion later on, you won't be able to change your vote.