The right to vote is one of the many rights we Americans have as citizens. It is this right that we are able to shape who we are, what we do and how we do it. We hear complaints about big money, lobbyists and campaign expenses in every election. I believe if every eligible voter decided to cast a vote for the person best suited to fulfill that voter’s ideas, then big money and lobbyists would mean nothing. By not voting, you allow others to determine things such as taxes, how your taxes are spent, new laws and so on. I vote with two priorities: One: veterans, their families and the issues that affect them. Two: maintaining a strong Postal Service, from which I retired. I look to other issues as well, but the candidate must share the values I hold on the “top two.”

There are two types of democracies in the world. Direct, where the citizens directly deliberate and vote on legislation, and representative (the United States being one), where the people elect representatives (here, it is the House and Senate) to write and vote on laws. More than half the countries in the world are some form of democracy. Which leaves a little less than half the world’s population unable to self-govern. Where would you rather live?

The duty to vote doesn’t fall every four years, either. This is an annual function of citizenship that should be exercised. Local, state and national elections affect us all, and deserve attention equally from every voter.

Whatever your views on politics, every vote is important. When this article is published, we will be 19 days from Election Day. There are very few excuses for not voting, especially this year. The state of Connecticut has made it possible for everyone to vote by absentee ballot for reasons of safety and health. You should have received an application for one in the mail. If you did not, just go to: https://bit.ly/3o4mQGZ.

I have voted in every election since I was eligible at age 18. Whether I was at college, serving in the Army in Arizona, California or West Germany, I made sure I cast my ballot.

So here are some last-minute tips:

Register to vote! You may register online at: voterregistration.ct.gov/OLVR/welcome.do. You may also register at town hall on election day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Bring proof of identity and residence. To find where you vote, go to wilton.org/registrar-voters for that information.

You may also find the official ballot for Connecticut at the same web page. This will show you exactly what the ballot you use to vote will look like.

If you consider yourself a true American and believe in the ideals of this great country, then there is nothing more patriotic than casting your vote. Research the candidates, decide those who align themselves most closely to your values and beliefs, and do your part to continue what our forefathers started — participate in the Great Experiment of Democracy!

Tom Moore is adjutant of American Legion Post 86 in Wilton. To reach him, email legionpost86@gmail.com.