After all the campaigning, all the speeches, all the visits from prominent presidential candidates, all the advertising and intrusive phone calls, today is the day it all comes to an end … for at least a few moments.

But it’s an election year with high stakes, so the reprieve is likely to be brief before campaigning for the general election begins.

Nevertheless, today’s primary election is important. It will narrow and focus the field of candidates — including those running for governor, U.S. Senate and House, as well as local offices like city council members and mayor — who will continue speechifying, asking for donations and seeking the support of citizens who care about how we are governed — and about who does the governing. If you haven’t yet taken advantage of earlier opportunities, we urge you to go to the polls today and vote. It’s a right, a privilege and a responsibility.

As we’ve said many times before, traditionally, primary voting doesn’t garner as much participation as Election Day voting — but that means that every vote carries more weight. One vote, maybe yours, could determine which candidate will represent your interests in November.

The drama may be heightened by redrawn district lines, intended to reduce some of the gerrymandering that plagues our state. People worked hard so that you could have a fair vote today.

Also thanks to hard work, eligible voters will not be turned away from the polls if they lack photo IDs. Their votes will be counted, too.

In Forsyth County, 29,840 voters took advantage of early voting, according to the Forsyth County Board of Elections. With 257,428 registered Forsyth County voters, that’s a little better than 10% — a good omen. We expect many more at the polls today.

Despite the freedom to vote, voters face difficulties in determining whose name to check. Candidates can and have spread misinformation, spin or outright lies in this election, just as in others. It’s unfortunate that our freedoms allow a certain amount of dirty politics. Voters must increasingly be wary of outrageous claims and take the responsibility to educate themselves, to follow legitimate, trustworthy sources of information.

Facebook does not qualify.

In a break from long-standing tradition, the Journal is offering no candidate endorsements in this primary election. In the past we’ve been guided by the principle that incumbents who have done a good job — avoided scandal and contributed to the overall good — are generally worthy of reelection, especially in local elections where party affiliation means much less than responsible stewardship. We’ve also endorsed candidates who speak up for equal rights and opportunities for all as well as safeguarding North Carolina’s natural treasures, so that we can, in good conscience, pass them to our children. We think those are important principles.

We do, however, endorse the tax proposal on the bottom of the ballot. Nobody likes the idea of raising taxes, but this one is about as painless as they come. It raises the local sales and use tax at the rate of one quarter percent (0.25%) on goods that exempt essential items like food and gas. And there’s no more worthy cause for a tax than increasing teachers’ salaries to keep them from taking their talent and determination elsewhere. Please vote for the “Forsyth County Local Sales and Use Tax.”

Whatever your politics, we encourage you to take the time and effort today to have your voice heard the democratic way: through your vote.

Polls open today at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Polling places throughout Forsyth County will be open. To find yours, go online to: https://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/elections/

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