ZACHARY: Are you ready, really ready, to cast a ballot?

DomeLight by Jim Zachary 

Voters must prepare themselves. 

Everyone, regardless of party affiliation, should want all legally registered voters to cast a ballot.

 But just voting is not enough; we should be informed voters.  

Anyone not registered to vote should know that the clock is ticking and while the Nov. 8 midterm and gubernatorial election may seem a long way away, in reality there are only about 10 weeks left to register. 

Will the Republican Party win back the U.S. Senate seat it lost in the last election with Herschel Walker as its standard bearer or will Democrat Raphael Warnock carry his polling momentum all the way to Election Day, retaining his seat?

Will Gov. Brian Kemp be elected to another term or will Stacey Abrams be Georgia's next governor? 

Will Republican Brad Raffensperger be unseated by Democrat Bee Nguyen? 

Can Republican Attorney General Chris Carr overcome a serious challenge by Democrat Jen Jordan?

Of course, there are many other statewide and local elections on the ballot, all of them important. 

There was a time when informed voters would say, "I don't vote for the 'D' or the 'R,' I vote for the best candidate."

If only that was still true. 

It may sound silly to say politics is too political but politics is way too political. 

In fact, everything is too political.  

Party affiliation is really not about policy and ideology anymore; it is more about winning. 

Elections, unfortunately, are driven by personality not policy. 

A truly informed electorate would look beyond personality, beyond party and weigh candidates on their own merits. 

Records matter.

Experience matters.

Background and education matter. 

Character and values matter. 

Ethics matter.

Positions and polices matter the most. 

Candidates should be informed and able to clearly articulate their positions. 

Candidates should stand for questions and be willing to engage in debates of ideas. 

Voters should look beyond talking points carefully crafted by campaign staffers and listen, really listen. 

It is crucial that candidates be informed. 

It is equally crucial that voters be informed. 

Have you prepared yourself for this important election? 

Are you ready — really ready — to cast an informed ballot? 

Jim Zachary is editor of The Valdosta Daily Times, CNHI's director of newsroom training and development and president emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. 

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