Editorial: Does your vote matter?

Every four years we vote for president, and because of all the political advertising, news stories, robocalls and — truth be told — money spent, the top of the ballot often grabs the most attention.

Millions of Americans will cast their votes for president next month. Hundreds of thousands will cast a vote for president right here in Connecticut —more than 1.6 million voted in this state in 2008.

And if that makes you think your vote doesn’t count, you are wrong. The race for president is only one of many on the ballot Wilton voters will receive.

And while who leads our nation for the next four years is important, the races that affect us most directly are those closest to home.

The votes you cast for state representative and state senator carry much more weight than other votes you’ll cast this fall. In 2008, Democrat Peggy Reeves carried Wilton by just one vote over Republican Susan Bruschi (3,658-3,657), although Norwalk gave Ms. Reeves a more decisive victory.

So while it’s easy to watch President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spar during nationally televised debates, it’s much more beneficial to yourself and your community to listen to local candidates, read the articles about them and make an informed decision.

And this year, both state representative races in Wilton (the 125th and 143rd) are contested, as is the state Senate race.

If you haven’t been paying attention yet, you still have time. Next week, The Wilton Bulletin will present a comprehensive voter’s guide of the candidates for contested races from U.S. Senate to state representative. (The town’s two registrars of voters are both up for election this year but — barring a write-in campaign — will be re-elected, as it is the primaries where those posts could change.)

There is one Washington-centric race that will have a direct impact on Wilton, and that is the 4th District seat in Congress. The League of Women Voters will present a debate between the two candidates — the Democrat incumbent, Jim Himes, and Steve Obsitnik, the Republican challenger — Sunday afternoon, from 4 to 5:30, at the Clune Center at Wilton High School. In a further nod to public participation, members of the audience may submit a question for the candidates.

For those procrastinators who are not yet registered to vote, the deadline is Oct. 30. Those who attain voting privileges as to citizenship, residency or age after that date have until Nov. 5, as do members of the armed forces and recently discharged service members.

National politics can be fun to watch and debate. But it’s our local politics where you can make the biggest difference. You just have to make an effort.