By now, you may just want it all to come to an end so your favorite TV shows aren’t littered with political ads, your mailbox filled with fliers for the candidates and the Opinion page of your local newspaper back to “normal” without all the election-related letters to the editor.

But today — Election Day 2019 — is important, just as every election day is. Today, hundreds of thousands of your fellow Virginians will be heading to the polls to cast ballots in hundreds of state and local races and decide “Yae” or “Nay” in any number of local referenda. Today, we see democracy in action, and we can take part.

Polls opened at 6 this morning and will close at 7 this evening. Voting only takes a matter of minutes, if that. Just be sure to bring a photo ID with you when you check in.

Here in Southside Virginia, there are a number of important races for local and state offices on the ballot.

Control of the General Assembly hangs in the balance. Republicans currently hold narrow margins in both chambers that Democrats have chipping away at since the 2017 House of Delegates election. Important issues such as gun safety laws, redistricting reform and health care reform hang in the balance depending on which party comes out on top.

In Pittsylvania County and Danville, two House districts and two Senate districts are being contested. In the 14th House District, incumbent Danny Marshall is trying to vend off a challenge from Eric Stamps for reelection for another two-year term. In the 16th District, incumbent Les Adams and challenger Dustin Evans are squaring. In the 15th Senate District, incumbent Frank Ruff faces a challenge from Virginia Smith, while over in the 20th District, incumbent Bill Stanley and challenger Sherman Witcher are doing battle for the seat. Check out for nonpartisan election information on the races

Voters will also be filling a number of local officies, as well. In Pittsylvania County, two candidates are vying for the open job of commissioner of the revenue. Two district seats on the Board of Supervisors are being contested: There’s a three-way race for the Tunstall District seat, and a two-way contest in the Westover District. There are also two contested School Board seats on the ballot in the Westover and Chatham-Blairs districts. In Danville, three candidates are vying for the open circuit court clerk position.

Lastly, in Danville, voters will decide whether to allow pari-mutuel gaming in the city. The issue has been a hot topic of discussion for months and could be the most interesting race of the night.

The ability of Americans to elect their own representatives to political office is a right we often take for granted. We shouldn’t. Hundreds of millions — nay, billions — of people around the globe lack this fundamental political right and are mere subjects of their governments. Americans, on the contrary, are masters of their own fates with the power of the ballot in hand. Exercise that right today.

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