GUEST OPINION: Be sure to exercise your right to vote this election

In his historic Gettysburg Address, president Abraham Lincoln stated, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.” It is abundantly clear that president Lincoln was looking to celebrate our great nation’s democracy — as there is quite a bit to celebrate!

The American democratic system is built so that each and every one of us has the opportunity to stand up for our values in the ballot box. It gives us the opportunity to discuss and debate big ideas for the betterment of our community. Yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 43% of eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 General Election.

Voting is one of our greatest rights and most sacred duties, but in recent years, it has been easy to overlook and undervalue the opportunity to cast a ballot. There are many places in this world where people are not afforded voting rights at all. Here, our vote has weight and power.

Our government can only be by, of and for the people if the people take ownership of our government. President Lincoln was calling us – you, me, your neighbor, your boss, your Aunt Ellen, all of us! – to hold up our end of the bargain. We do that by researching the issues and candidates on our ballot at the federal, state and local levels and exercising our voting rights. Informed, knowledgeable voters are a very powerful force.

Since early voting began in Ohio on Oct. 6, more than 40,000 people in Portage County have cast a ballot. This is nearly double the number that took advantage of early voting in 2016! We’re seeing this trend across the U.S. and analysts are predicting turnout for the history books.

I’m not a career politician. Before launching my campaign for Portage County sheriff, I had never run for elected office. But, in my time as a law enforcement professional and before that as a small business owner, I like to think I have learned a bit about the people of Portage County. We care deeply for our community and want to make it better. I am proud of how many Portage County residents are recognizing the awesome power of their vote.

All levels of our government work better when citizens get involved, which means our jobs do not end on Nov. 3. This is one reason why I, as sheriff, would like to create a Citizen’s Academy and Advisory Board for our sheriff’s office. The advisory board would represent different sectors in our community (e.g., individuals, businesses, local government, social service and youth organizations) and help the sheriff’s office better serve our community. In my opinion, we can only benefit from more avenues of direct constituent feedback, community engagement and collaboration.

Lincoln’s quote at Gettysburg reminds me that our government works best by and for us when we are involved, engaged and informed. So, do your research and exercise this important right. I hope to see you at the polls, on or before Nov. 3!

Greg Johnson is the Democratic candidate for Portage County sheriff. He has over 24 years of experience in law enforcement, including as Chief Detective for Portage County. Greg is endorsed by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Portage County Commissioners Kathleen Clyde and Vicki Kline, the recently retired Police Chiefs of Kent, Ravenna and Streetsboro and others. More information on his campaign can be found at


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.