Primary elections are often ignored, but they are every bit as important as any other election. Often the issues on the ballot in these elections affect your life in a very real way.

Ohio’s primary election will take place on Tuesday May 6, 2014.

If you have not yet registered to vote in this election, you must register by April 7, 2014. Just print out a voter registration form and mail it to your county board of elections.

This year’s primary deals with a number of issues that hit close to home for us all.

Ballot Issues: Many municipal levies will be voted in this election, including levies for school and police, fire, and EMS protections across the entire state. The outcome of these votes will determine how your child’s school will be run and where money will be allocated for those who protect and serve us. We want to feel safe in our communities and know our kids are getting the education they need. The primary election is where these matters are decided.

Other tax initiatives will be on the ballot, such as the sin tax renewal in Cuyahoga County. Whatever your view on taxes, you can make your voice heard by casting your vote on these tax requests. Amendments to local zoning laws will also be on the ballot in some municipalities. Are you worried about that property down the road being rezoned for commercial purposes, or a business asking to sell liquor on Sundays? If so, you should be paying attention to your local primary.

Candidates: Approximately one-third of the state appellate judges are up for reelection on the May ballot. Voting in this election gives you the power to help determine how criminal prosecutions are handled in Ohio. By voting for a judge you think best represents your community’s needs, you are voting directly for your values.

Several state offices and U.S. Congressional seats are also up for grabs this year. Primary elections offer voters who have declared a political party a chance to pick which candidates will represent that party in the November general election. This decision is important, since some areas are a stronghold for a particular party, giving the primary winner a distinct advantage in the general election. In Ohio, you declare your political affiliation simply by asking to vote in that party’s primary. If you choose not to declare a party affiliation, your ballot will not include these decisions.

Amendment: There will also be a proposed state constitutional amendment on the ballot in May.  Issue One will amend Article VIII, Public Debt and Public Works, of the Ohio Constitution. The amendment will allow the state to issue revenue bonds to provide funds for capital improvements in cities and counties in Ohio.

As you can see, many of the local decisions that affect your community are decided in primary elections. Help determine the future of your community by voting on May 6, 2014.

Learn more at the ACLU of Ohio Vote Center.