For more than 200 years, the residents of the United States of America have gone to the polls to cast their votes for who should be the leader of the nation or local municipalities for a term.

It’s a fundamental staple of our nation — that the people speak through the ballot and leaders listen and carry forward if re-elected or go back to private life or another area of public service if the vote doesn’t go their way.

And, even though this year is very, very different in fundamental ways, in that an election is being held to determine who will serve in various functions for various terms, it is no different. The way we vote has changed in 2020, the way we communicate has changed in 2020 and the way we live in many ways has changed this year.

We stand here less than a week from the voting deadline of Nov. 3. On the ballot for voters locally are choices for federal, state and local offices, as well as ballot questions that will portend changes for our state.

However you plan to vote, we ask and encourage that you do so. There are a few days left to vote early in-person at your county clerk’s office, an opportunity which we would encourage to keep down on lines at the polling places on Nov. 3. If you want to wait until Nov. 3, there are a reduced number of places at which you can cast your vote, but there will be precincts open to accept your vote.

Please make your voice heard. This fundamental right, like all others, must be exercised to remain relevant and strong.

And then, we will wait. It’s entirely possible that this year will see election results delayed for a number of days, as mail-in votes are tabulated and processed, so we should be prepared for that.

But, after that point, it will be determined who will serve in those positions for various terms, and that’s where the real work of the American citizen begins. It’s not enough to cast your vote, though it’s definitely important that you do so.

Beyond just voting, it is necessary that the public remain involved in the process of government. That means that we first accept the results of the election, even if we disagree, and then work to advance our political goals through the leadership in place.

We stand today as a nation that is divided in many ways and the gaps between us are often deep and painful. There’s no illusion on our part that the election will heal those wounds. In fact, in many cases, the results may simply reopen or aggravate them.

But, this isn’t the first time our nation has gone into an election season facing big challenges or with division threatening to once and for all end the great experiment that is the United States of America. In fact, our history tells a story of times of great tribulation and unrest and that, despite all that, the United States remained united.

After Nov. 3, we have some hard work to do as a nation. We have to begin to confront the sources of division throughout our nation, a process which begins with dialogue, then comes to the hard work of compromise and reunion.

We’ve got a tall mountain to climb to reunite this nation, but it can be done. It has been done. It will be done.

It will take courage. It will take humility. It will test everything we have. We will likely not get there until we reach the brink.

But these things are not things with which the founding fathers were unfamiliar or unprepared. After a contentious split with Great Britain, which resulted in the Revolutionary War, it wasn’t exactly hunky dory on the homefront.

The founding fathers laid the foundations of the United States of America amidst chaos and struggle, amidst division and political unrest. But they did this because they knew that something greater was at stake — the future of this new nation. We must regain that sense of urgency and desire to keep the great experiment going.

It hasn’t reached perfection, but the United States of America has provided a model for democracy throughout our world. It’s incumbent upon us to make sure that status continues, regardless of the outcome of federal, state or local elections.

It’s incumbent on us to act as citizens, to focus on the big picture and to work with our political opponents once the dust settles and the elections are over.

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