Ready or not, we as a county, state and nation are about to embark on another election process over the next 11 months.

Some may still feel drained by what happened in 2020, but now more than ever it’s vital that people become informed voters. Knowledge will be key in many areas this year. The option of simply going to the polls on November 8 is not the answer, as it will take time to gather relevant information about the issues and the candidates.

There are many things that need to be considered and the first of them is to remember that this election is about more than choosing people who will be our representatives in Lansing and Washington, D.C. Which will also be included in the mix is ​​several fair- equally important smaller races for positions on city council, county commissioners, school boards and more.

The first step in the process is for those wishing to run for these positions at the city, township, county or state level to know the proper filing procedure to get your name on the ballot. What is surprising to people is how many months in advance you need to file the necessary paperwork with the county clerk’s office.

It may only be February, but it’s not too early to ask what the filing deadline is for a particular office by contacting the clerk’s office or checking the city’s Facebook or web pages. , county or township. The first step to being a good candidate is to be aware of what putting your name on the ballot entails.

Nothing is sadder on election day to see one or sometimes no candidate listed on the ballot for a particular position at the local level. As retired United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said when he announced his retirement, we live in a form of government that has been, is, and will continue to be a great experiment. .

Part of that great experience is that voters have choices on Election Day, whether it’s an election for school board, city council, county commissioners, governor, state, and the U.S. House and Senate. . Who you vote for is up to each voter, but what’s more important is having that choice.

Hopefully the candidates for all of these positions will get good information about who they are and why they are running for office. If a voter knows where a candidate stands on the issues and why you have a much greater chance of getting voters to support them.

Likewise, voters, be sure to look at this information from all angles. It’s never a bad idea to read what a candidate, their opponent, the media and unbiased sources like the League of Women Voters have to say. These are some of the tools that allow a voter to make an informed decision when voting.

Looking at all sides of a race from a non-partisan perspective can be interesting study. What’s disappointing is how many times people don’t take this step and later regret it when the chosen one doesn’t follow their line of thinking.

In addition to doing the paperwork, make sure, if possible, to watch the debates or listen to what the candidates are actually saying. Having a fancy PR firm designing a bunch of stuff for Facebook, a web page, brochures, or press releases isn’t the same as hearing what comes straight out of the horse’s mouth.

Being in the media for so many years and having the opportunity to interview so many candidates made me realize the importance of this. There have been many times when studying their written background made me think this person was a great candidate to walk away from the interview with the exact opposite perspective.

It’s important to get it right, because this will be the person who could possibly hold this position for the next two or four years. So make sure your vote is cast for the person you want to hold this position.

What will likely also be considered on Election Day are certain local ballot proposals, mileage requests, renewals and other important matters. It’s equally important to know what they are and how they will impact you.

They are always made public well before the election, so find out well before entering the polling station. I remember standing in line to vote many times and hearing people ask someone standing next to them, “What are we voting on today?”

A top priority is to come informed and ready to vote.

Another key takeaway is that this election will feature new districts as a result of the redistricting. So someone living in Manistee County might vote for one of two candidates from one district, and their friend just down the street in another township might be considering two different candidates for a different district.

Before Election Day, take the time to determine the candidates you are considering for where you live so you can learn about the right candidates.

Also make sure you are aware of any changes in election law that may impact you and the information needed to vote. Nothing can be more frustrating than waiting in line for a long time to find out that you don’t have the proper ID with you to vote.

This column has not been written to influence you in any way on who to support or how to vote on any proposal as it is your own personal decision to make. This is just a reminder that the election will soon be upon us, so make sure you have all the information you need to make informed decisions.

Hopefully this is something we all start doing before we see you again on Monday.

Ken Grabowski is the retired deputy editor of the Manistee News Advocate who has spent more than 36 years in the newspaper business.