It’s time! If you care about elections that affect your everyday life, register to vote

Your last chance to register to vote this year is approaching. The deadline is Tuesday, and that means your application must be in the mail that day.

A lot has happened in our country and in Texas since the last midterm elections in 2018. We suffered a two-year global pandemic, an angry mob stormed the Capitol, Texans survived mass power outages, and inflation has hit us all. This is the first time many state and county officials have been on the ballot since all that happened, so it’s your first chance to weigh in on their performance.

Plenty of people get interested in presidential elections, but the decisions much further down the ballot often have a significant impact on our daily lives, even more so than the president.

Think your water or electric bill is too high? Talk to your state legislator or city council member. Think teachers need a raise or your school district should provide more information about its spending? This is an issue for school board members and state lawmakers.

The governor and lieutenant governor set the agenda for taxes, school safety, border security and other state policies.

A bin of “I Voted Today” stickers rests on a table at a polling place, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Stratham, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A bin of “I Voted Today” stickers rests on a table at a polling place, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Stratham, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The candidates elected in these midterm elections negotiate and vote on an array of issues that affect you, your work, your family, and your neighborhood. They’re the things you chat with your neighbors and post on NextDoor about. So instead of complaining to your spouse again or drafting a passive aggressive social media post, here’s your chance to actually make an impact.

We know what you’re thinking: I’m just one vote. How can it matter? Sure, plenty of districts for various offices are drawn to heavily favor one side or the other. But in Tarrant County, local races could be close, and every vote is a chance to sway the result.

And in addition to participating in local, everyday matters and making a difference, now is a good time to embrace the spirit of our democracy. The right to vote is a gift — and a unique one at that. It’s important not to waste it. Rep. John Lewis, the late civil-rights giant, called the vote the most “powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society.”

Most people don’t think about life in America this way, but billions of people don’t get a voice in how their own government operates. Dictators rise and fall. Monarchs come and go. “We the people” don’t always get to choose who leads and how.

A democratic republic might seem normal because we’re used to it, but plenty of people around the world wish they could have an opinion about who speaks for them and operates their government.

Not everyone has to vote, of course. If you don’t really understand who is running for what position, what those officeholders do and what the candidates believe, you should study up. You’ve still got a month until Election Day.

But for now, make sure you’re registered. At the state’s website, you can confirm whether your registration is active. If it’s not, or you’ve never registered before, use the online tool to fill out an application. Get it in the mail to your county elections office by Tuesday.

Then, review the races in your area. Inform yourself, and chat with your neighbors. Start conversations — not squabbles — on social media about issues that are important to you. Resist the urge to bury your head in the sand, even as politics gets rough and tumble.

Elections aren’t perfect, but the more that “we the people” express our will, the better our government can be.