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From the editor: Exercise your right to vote thoughtfully

Sometimes a little travel is needed to make a person truly appreciate being a United States citizen. For me, that eye-opening moment came about 10 years ago, on a trip to Lebanon. Before I'd left for my two-week vacation, I'd fired off a column a...

Sometimes a little travel is needed to make a person truly appreciate being a United States citizen.

For me, that eye-opening moment came about 10 years ago, on a trip to Lebanon. Before I'd left for my two-week vacation, I'd fired off a column about how ignorant the U.S. government was for continuing to keep Lebanon on its list of countries Americans not supposed to visit.

When my Lebanese hosts read my Austin (Minn.) Daily Herald article, they were shocked. "How is it that you can criticize your own government like that?" they said. Then I learned about the newspaper editor who had been found dead, his eyes gouged out and his writing hand burned off with acid, not long after he'd written an article critical of Syria, which was essentially the puppet master of Lebanese government for a long period of time.

It made me appreciate my country and my freedoms in a whole new way.

Which leads me to another freedom we enjoy: the right to vote.

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On Tuesday, we adults can exercise that freedom. We may have to wait in line, but, if we do, it will only be for minutes or hours, not days like in some African countries.

If there are voting machine irregularities -- quite likely -- we know that they aren't government sponsored.

With that freedom comes responsibility, however: the responsibility to educate yourself about the candidates.

t's not difficult. The Internet provides myriad options, from the Minnesota League of Women Voters Web site detailed on the front cover of this issue, to newspaper Web sites, to the candidates' own sites.

Both the MNLWV and the Duluth News Tribune have printed voter guides, as did the Hermantown Star.

If you still don't know which Senate candidate you favor, tune into Minnesota Public Radio Sunday evening. Or go to our Election 2008 collection and find each Q & A with the three main Senate candidates. There are even more stories, written by our State Capitol Bureau, under the politics tab on the left side of the home page.

Election Day is Tuesday -- are you ready?

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