With apologies to all our international readers, today I’m going to address specifically that portion of our readership made up of American citizens.

My fellow Americans, today is the day on which we exercise one of our most important, most fundamental freedoms: the right to decide who we want running our country for the next four years. It’s been an especially contentious election season the last couple of years, and especially the last couple of months, and you’re probably sick of hearing about it, but it’s more important than ever that you take that one critical step, today of all days. Get out and vote.

I’m just as sick of all the rhetoric as the rest of you, to be sure, but I’m not going to add the small-minded little coda, “Unless you’re going to vote for [the candidate I disagree with]–in that case, stay home.” Voting is a sacred responsibility held jointly by those who consider themselves Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, or something else entirely, and every one of your opinions is just as important as everyone else’s. If you’re registered (and I hope you are, because if not it’s too late now), go and do the (small-d) democratic thing. Vote for the ones you honestly believe will lead the country best, or at least least worst.

As Americans, you even have the right not to vote, if you so desire–unlike in certain countries, such as Australia, that impose fines on people who don’t vote–but I do hope that’s one right you won’t exercise. Our country runs better when it runs with the input of as many people as possible. We’ll never get input from everyone, or even a majority, so it’s as important as possible that we hear from the largest portion that we can. Whether you’re voting for someone or just against someone, your voice can still make a difference. True, it’s a small difference–by itself. But all those differences put together can up to a significant force for change.

And I’m not just talking about the Presidential ballot question either. On everyone’s ballots across the country, there are other crucial questions to consider: questions of new taxes, or whether to enshrine hunting as a sacred right, or a thousand other matters that were important enough to put to the vote of the people as a whole. Don’t neglect these questions.

If you want a little explanation about the measures on your ballot beyond the cryptic (and often slanted) little blurbs you read in the voting booth, there are plenty of neutral guides that present deeper explanations. For example, Ballotpedia seems fairly complete and well-reasoned–or you could simply ask Google “What’s on my ballot?” For that matter, Google, Facebook, and a zillion other Internet services will also be happy to tell you where to vote. You might even be as lucky as I’ve been the last few years, and live right next door to or across the street from your polling place.

However you vote, and for whatever reason–even if it’s something as trivial as wanting to make sure you have the right to complain if the election doesn’t go your way–get out there and do your civic duty. Then you can wear your “I voted!” or “My Vote, My Voice” sticker as a badge of pride, even if “your” side comes up short in the end.

Related: Everyone’s welcome here—but please vote against Trump, a different perspective from TeleRead Publisher David Rothman.