On March 3, be sure to vote.

Over the last few weeks, we have been providing plenty of ink to explain municipal and school budgets, and what the factors are that are driving their costs up or down. Through interviews and debates, we have been providing you introductions to individuals in our community who wish to serve on our behalf.

And we have been providing news coverage from the Associated Press, which has been closely following the 2020 election cycle, and the various candidates — both Democrat and Republican — who are seeking the White House. Likewise, we have provided space on these pages for all stripes of contributors to boast about their candidate and to denounce others.

Fundamentally, that’s the role we play: messenger.

Facts are the foundation on which we build our opinions on issues (and candidates). It only makes sense that with more facts, that foundation gets stronger.

Earlier this week, the editorial board of the Rutland Herald and The Times Argus convened to discuss whether we wanted to endorse a candidate in advance of Tuesday’s primary. But the majority of the board felt that the presidential race was not the proper place for our voice. The board members were clear: let’s provide facts and let the voters of Vermont decide for themselves.

In no way does that mean we are forfeiting this space to share thoughts on other topics of the day. Nor does it mean that we could not reach a consensus. We actually never got to the question of “who” because we first had to decide: “should we?”

The field of candidates in the Democratic primary is broad and as diverse as the Democratic Party itself. And while Vermont has a candidate in that race, that political range needs to be allowed to be unencumbered by our misplaced pick.

Nor should our sidestepping the opportunity be seen as a snub to any candidate in the race. To the contrary: We are holding up all of the candidates equally.

No question, this is coveted space for any newspaper. The words that have graced this space for generations now have clarified positions, built cases, changed policies, shaped laws, affected attitudes, fought power, and defended the most vulnerable. The men and women who have written editorials know the weight of the opinions, and have taken the role with the utmost seriousness. If we are doing our job well, we are using this space mindfully to voice opinions toward better tomorrows for our communities and the state. It is not a role we take lightly, and we recognize that many readers turn to us for our take, especially when it comes to endorsements.

Not today.

As pundits are fond of saying, this election is about the course the nation takes next. We can lament the process by which we elect our president, and be concerned that it remains fair. And, as individuals, we can latch on to the issues that are important to us and our families.

But it is that very understanding, that reading beyond headlines, that bears the fruit of an educated decision on issues. As citizens, in our search for facts, we constantly encounter positions vastly different from our own. They should not be dismissed. They should be accepted and understood, absorbed into the mix and processed. Understanding all sides of an argument on any issue provides comfort in the middle, where most of us actually find ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, we do not exist in the black and white of extremes. The world is shades of grey.

Certainly, these candidates see a singular issue from different points of view. If, as the pundits suggest, this election is about to define a direction, it would be insulting to you as a voter for us to make your decision for you based on our interpretation of the candidates and the issues. That’s a very personal decision.

We hope this March 3 you vote your conscience, doing so for those very reasons that are close to your heart and belief system — whatever that may be.

Our only request for this presidential primary is that you use this constitutional right given to you. Turnout is expected to be high in all of the Super Tuesday states. That’s a very good thing: more votes means more representation.

Rest assured that in the coming months, we will continue to provide news coverage of the presidential election, as well as the upcoming races for statewide offices, including governor. This is all far from over.

But for now, for today, armed with your facts, do your duty and let your opinion be the one that matters most.

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