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OPINION: Oregon Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner says the stakes are too high to sit this election out.

COURTESY - State Sen. Rob WagnerMany of us can recall where we were the first time we had the opportunity to vote.

I was 19 years old and a sophomore away at college. I voted absentee. I remember getting my ballot from the mailroom, pouring over the measures on the voters' pamphlet, and putting a 29-cent stamp on the envelope to mail it back to the Clackamas County Elections office.

I remember election night. I sat in the dorm with my friends and watched Bill Clinton's victory speech. He touted the election as a call to our nation to address a variety of challenges and, "perhaps most important of all, to bring our people together as never before."

I also remember the magnanimous concession speech by George H.W. Bush: "The people have spoken and we accept the majesty of the democratic system." He was committed to the smooth transition of power and he followed through on that commitment.

In communicating with my constituents and our community members, I know there is anxiety that our democracy is fraying around the edges. I have great hope that here in Oregon — and across the country — our ballots will count and the vote will be secure.

We cannot let anxiety lead to avoidance. This vote is too important.

Your vote is your opportunity to weigh in on the trajectory of your community, your state and your nation. It is your opportunity to demonstrate what you support and what you protest — to make your values known.

On this ballot are issues of public health and education, the safety of our communities, and the future of our children.

Additionally, individuals are stepping forward to serve the public and their communities. And those in positions of power have an opportunity to be measured by those they serve.

You have the chance to say whether you feel like your representatives show up to work. And if their work is formed by their voters or well-funded interest groups.

We know that democracy only works when the people participate. The stakes are too monumental to not participate.

In Oregon, Democrats have worked tirelessly to make it easy to vote. We were the first in the nation to pass vote-by-mail. We created an automatic voter registration system and passed a paid postage law. At every turn, we have strived to make access to the ballot simple and accessible, and your vote secure.

A wealth of information is available at OregonVotes.gov/MyVote. You can check the status of your ballot, get contact information for your local elections official, and find your closest ballot drop location. It's also important to know your deadlines.

Oct. 27 was the last day to submit your ballot by mail, and Nov. 3 by 8 p.m. is the last day to drop your ballot at an official drop box. I always recommend voting early so you know your ballot is received, accepted and counted.

Join me and vote by Nov. 3. Do not miss this opportunity. Our future is at stake.

Rob Wagner is majority leader for the Oregon Senate. He has represented Senate District 19, which includes Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tualatin, Southwest Portland, Rivergrove and Durham, since 2018. A Democrat, he lives in Lake Oswego.


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