A building that had been a one-room schoolhouse was the polling location for our neighborhood when I was a young girl. It still stands across the street from the farm where I grew up in Clermont County's Miami Township.
My mother would hold one of my hands and one of my sister's as we walked across a farm field to reach the polling place on Branch Hill-Guinea Pike. Voting was done with a pencil. Sometimes our mother would let my sister and me mark the boxes for her.
"Be careful," Mom would say. "You have to do this right because I can only vote once."
And so, the importance of voting was ingrained in me long before I was old enough to cast a ballot. Since becoming an adult, I have never failed to vote in an election.
Next Tuesday, November 6, people throughout America will go to their local polling places and vote on a broad range of elective offices as well as state and local issues. Unfortunately, fewer than 60 percent of Americans who are entitled to vote typically do so.
My name won't appear on the ballot this time, and it would be inappropriate for me to suggest in this column who you should vote for in any race.
But if you are registered to vote, please do so.
I grew up believing that voting is not just our right as Americans, but our responsibility.
There is no greater freedom than being allowed to choose who will lead us. Your vote ultimately helps decide how our tax dollars are spent.
My mother and father used to say that if you don't exercise your right to vote, you don't have a right to gripe about the results. OK, that's not actually the case thanks to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But even as a child, I understood their point.
The officials we elect have a responsibility to be responsive to us. If we like what they do, we should keep them in power. If not, we should change course.
We live in the best nation in the world, and that's largely because the United States has the fairest voting system possible.
At this date, some Americans might be weary of the political advertising on television and radio, as well as full-page newspaper ads, yard signs, and bumper stickers. Tune them out if you must, but please don't be turned off about voting.
If you're unsure whether you're registered to vote or where your local polling place is, please call your county board of elections.
Some Americans made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our rights. And the right to select who will lead us -- especially in difficult times such as this -- is something to be cherished.