The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped Victoria County residents from making their voices heard in the upcoming election.

As of Tuesday, more than 15,000 county residents had cast their ballots in person or by mail. On the first day of early voting alone, 1,720 people cast their ballots, beating the previous record set in 2016 by more than 300 votes.

It’s great to see residents getting out to vote early. The pandemic has added difficulties and worries, but we must remember that voting is a civic duty. Voting is a fundamental part of a democratic society and gives us a chance to have their a say in the people who represent us and in the issues that hit home.

Human rights activist Loung Ung said it well: “Voting is not only our right — it is our power.”

Elections officials throughout the Crossroads are encouraging residents to vote early, if possible, to both take advantage of voting at their convenience and help avoid long lines on Nov. 3.

Additionally, elections officials including Rachael Garcia, Refugio County’s elections administrator, are encouraging voters to do their homework before heading to the polls. That way voters are informed and can vote quickly, which is particularly important during the pandemic.

“Look at sample ballots, take the time to learn about who you want to vote for and go to the polls prepared,” Garcia recently told the Advocate.

We applaud all those who have already voted early. For those who haven’t, there’s about one week left to do so. Early voting ends Oct. 30.

It’s vital that we remember the ongoing pandemic while at the polls and do everything we can to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe. Do your part by wearing a mask, keeping at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and those around you and washing your hands before and after voting.

Now is the time to take advantage of the shorter lines and make your voice heard. If you’re registered to vote and can’t vote early, don’t forget to head to the polls on Nov. 3.

Our future is in the hands of the voters, and every vote counts.

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This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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