Registration, preparation and action are the three simple steps to participate in important decisions on the November general election ballot.
The deadline for the first step looms.
Eligible voters who have not registered must do so by 5 p.m. Oct. 10.
The process is not difficult.
Area county clerks, who serve as local election authorities, generally agree registration takes between two and five minutes when done at a clerk's office or another designated facility.
One of those designated facilities is the Missouri River Regional Library, 214 Adams St., or at its Osage County branch in Linn.
The library facilities serve as "the middle man," according to Christen Jackson, library spokesman. The library processes the registration, which then is forwarded to the appropriate county clerk.
Personal identification is required to register, but the list of acceptable identification "is actually pretty broad," according to Stacie Temple, communications and publications director for the Secretary of State, the chief election authority.
The list includes: a copy of a birth certificate; Native American trial document; other proof of U.S. citizenship; valid Missouri driver's license; ID issued by the federal government, state of Missouri or a local election authority; ID issued by a public or private state institution of higher education; copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter; or a driver's license or state identification card issued by another state.
Registered voters may cast their ballot on Nov. 6, but they shortchange themselves - and the process - if they ignore the interim step, which is preparation.
Candidates for the presidency, Congress, and state and local offices now are campaigning. They are expressing their agendas and drawing contrasts between their views and those of their opponents. In addition, voters will decide a number of ballot issues.
An election is your opportunity to make a difference.
But it is an opportunity you will miss if you fail to register.