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If you’re registered to vote here in Monroe County, it’s no secret that you’re voting in one of the most left-leaning and populous states in the nation. Your vote will most likely not make the difference in the state’s sway between Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama in the presidential election.

However, there are plenty of great reasons to take a moment on Tuesday, Nov. 6 and hit the polling stations to make your voice heard, despite New York’s inevitable liberal lean. The congressional and local races are still up for grabs. A “protest” presidential vote can still make your voice heard in some capacity. And most importantly, voting is one of, if not the most, fundamental interactions between  a citizen and his or her government in a representative democracy such as ours.

We are lucky as voters to be in one of the nation’s most important congressional districts. Incumbent Democrat Louise Slaughter and Republican challenger Maggie Brooks are competing for a critical congressional seat, and we are even more fortunate that the race for New York’s 25th district is a close one.

Slaughter, a congresswoman since 1987, member of the House Rules Committee and chair from 2007-11, has left her legislative mark on our government. Her pet issues include genetic discrimination and antibiotic regulation, and she has played an integral role in the passing of laws such as 2010’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as Obamacare). Members of both political parties have a vested interest in either keeping her in power or voting her out of it.

Brooks has served as Monroe County executive since 2003. To Republicans, she represents a way to upset Slaughter’s longstanding position in Congress. Brooks presents a record of fighting for right-wing social policy on issues such as gay marriage and “family values.” Ultimately, the votes of students will help play a deciding factor in this election — latest poll numbers put Slaughter ahead by only four points. For this congressional race, your vote is worth your time.

And even though your voice for Romney or Obama won’t be heard quite so clearly on the national stage, if you are dissatisfied with both candidates a vote for a third party can demonstrate to politicians the issues you’d like to see addressed. Both the libertarian and socialist parties are represented on the ticket this election, and a vote for one of them is a vote Republican or Democratic politicians missed out on — one they may try to appeal for next time around.

Most importantly, however, elections represent the one chance we have every few years to put power back in the hands of the people, the one time in which politicians are forced to remember who they’re supposed to be working for: you. If you aren’t casting your vote, they have no reason to work for it. This Nov. 6, head out to the polls and choose your leaders. If you don’t, someone else will.

Torrisi is a member of the class of 2016.

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