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Editorial: Lend your voice to rural America

by Josh Kramer

It is almost hard to believe that our election issue of North Dakota Living is here. But with early voting options, more and more people are choosing to cast their ballots well before Election Day.

Our organization does not endorse candidates. What we do endorse, however, is voting. Whether on or before Election Day, please vote.

Your voice matters! In 2016, rural America played a big part in our national elections – 500,000 MORE rural voters went to the polls than in 2012. Electric cooperatives have the opportunity to play a vital role in encouraging rural voter turnout and engaging on issues that matter most to our communities. It is our job to remind our elected officials that rural issues matter.

That is why the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives is once again participating in Co-ops Vote, a nonpartisan program developed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Its goal is quite simple: to encourage co-op members to vote and ensure that rural issues remain part of the national discussion.

We also feel strongly in using the vast reach of this magazine to provide a platform for introductions, giving statewide candidates an opportunity to reach voters and share information on matters important to co-op members, electric cooperatives and the communities we serve. There is only so much one can say, or learn, within the confines of a word limit. And so, we encourage you to do your own research on the candidates and issues that matter to you. Visit their websites or informational pages, attend a virtual (or in-person) townhall, compare positions and perspectives, and make an attempt to understand positions, even though they may differ from your own.

If you’re looking for a candidate you agree with 100 percent of the time, your search will have no end. Look for common ground. Too often, we get caught up in the desire to defend where we fit in the political spectrum and fail to recognize areas of agreement. In today’s hyper-partisan, divisive political climate, there seems to be far less attempts to compromise, and far more finger-pointing to who is right and who is wrong.

I don’t place blame on the candidates or politicians alone – I think we all share a bit of responsibility for what we’ve allowed our political environment and dialogue to become.

We all tire of the social media battles and negative advertisements, the phone calls and sensationalized rhetoric that dominates politics today. But I firmly believe that most who run for office genuinely want to “serve” and make things better – for all of us. It is important to show respect for anyone willing to put their name on a ballot, even if we disagree with their positions.

I encourage everyone, regardless of their political beliefs, to join America’s electric cooperatives in this national effort. VOTE.

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Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at