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A month away

Don’t look now, but the general election is one month away.

Actually, we’re going to suggest that you DO look now.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, voters in Franklin County and the rest of the nation will be asked to head to their polling places and cast their ballots for president of the United States and various congressional and senatorial races. Here in Massachusetts, residents will also be voting on legislative races, the governor’s council as well as county-wide positions. Voters here will also be asked to decide on a number of ballot questions.

Of course, much of attention to date has been on the presidential race pitting President Barack Obama, a Democrat, against Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger and former governor of Massachusetts, and a host of lesser-known candidates.

The U.S. Senate race between the incumbent, Republican Scott Brown, and the challenger, Elizabeth Warren, is pushing for voter attention in the commonwealth as well.

The candidates in these races — and in all of the others — all share a couple of attributes. They share a desire to serve the public through an elected office and through their service they want to improve the lives of the constituents they serve.

“Public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation,” Margaret Chase Smith, the late Republican senator from Maine, said more than once during her long career.

We want to think that’s the case, even today in the highly charged, partisan-powered atmosphere that has enveloped government at so many levels.

The candidates all deserve credit for putting themselves out there. The voters have something of a fickle relationship with their elected officials, too often choosing to see public service as out-of-touch with the very people they’re representing or much, much worse.

While there are men and women whose behavior in elected office is worthy of scorn or ridicule, most of them are doing right by their job and their constituents.

If voters agree with Smith’s thinking on public service, then it’s up to them to step up as well — and vote. The voters of the nation cannot expect the best from elected officials if they do not participate in the process that puts the men and women into office.

In Massachusetts, you can’t vote if you’re not registered. The deadline for registering is Wednesday, Oct. 17.

We urge you to register, study the candidates and the issues, and then cast your ballot on Nov. 6. It’s the way to serve your state and nation.

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