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Early voters and those picking up ballots made for a steady stream of traffic at the Douglas County Election Commission office at 225 N. 115th Street on May 7, 2018. 

Tuesday is almost here, and voters have significant choices to make. Midlanders will vary greatly in their opinions about candidates and ballot measures, based on their values and priorities. But it’s important that voters turn out and express their views. Our system of government depends on strong public participation.

Many Nebraskans and Iowans have already voted early; in fact, that’s an increasingly important part of election outcomes. For those who will vote on Tuesday, polls will be open in Nebraska from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and in Iowa from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A lot of contests this year have been hard fought, and the outcomes could be quite close. Which candidate can best turn out his or her vote can make a big difference. That’s likely to be the case Tuesday with some races for the U.S. House, Nebraska Legislature, University of Nebraska Board of Regents and the state Public Service Commission.

What’s at stake in this fall’s elections? Here’s a sampling.

» Nebraskans will decide whether to expand Medicaid.

» The outcomes Tuesday in close congressional contests nationwide could decide which party controls the U.S. House. That outcome will affect policies for taxes, the environment, trade and much more, including relations between Congress and the White House. In addition, Nebraskans will decide on a U.S. Senate race.

» The next Nebraska governor has an all-important obligation to steer the state prison system toward stability. He will take a stand on the tax debate before the Legislature next year.

» Tax policy won’t be the only matter to be debated by the Nebraska Legislature. Lawmakers will debate a possible overhaul of state aid to K-12 education and will revamp the state’s business incentives, since the Nebraska Advantage Act is about to sunset.

» The boards for several Omaha-area school districts face challenging budget situations.

» The University of Nebraska Board of Regents will set strategy at a time of considerable budget challenge, while on the positive side, NU is burnishing its reputation in fields such as medicine, biomechanics and natural resources science.

» The State Board of Education makes a range of decisions on school policy, including state academic standards, accountability requirements for school districts and contract approval for a host of services. Those aren’t necessarily high-profile issues for the public, but they can have major ramifications for Nebraska’s schools.

» In Douglas County, voters will decide whether to retain the current assessor or install her challenger.

» Members of the Omaha Public Power District board have major decisions to make about how quickly to further shift the district’s power generation to renewables and what the appropriate rate structure should be.

» The Metropolitan Community College Board will chart a course to help meet the Omaha area’s economic needs amid an ongoing shortage of adequately trained workers.

Again, there’s no unanimity among Midlanders about which candidates are the right ones in those contests. But we all should agree that it’s important for Midlanders to step forward to express themselves through the ballot.

Finally, it’s decision time.

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