"Government of the people, by the people, for the people,” was the simple but profound description of democracy stated by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address.

2016 is yet another year where the American people decide on a government that holds the best interest of the people. One might say it’s easy to decide on a group who represents the people, but it is not. Why? Over the years democracy has been soiled by dirty antics of some politicians who try to cheat the people out of their hard-earned democracy.

Attack ads filled with hatred are a common ground now in political campaigns. The hunger for power and money has caused a crisis in our nation. People are led astray by the influx of misinformation.

However, hope is not lost -- it has been kept burning by an organization that has set on the path of defending democracy on unbiased grounds: Vote Smart.

At Vote Smart, more than 60 millennials from across the country have gathered to bring citizens “just the facts.” I am an international student from Ghana at Claflin University in Orangeburg. I came all the way from South Carolina to Montana to help Vote Smart as an unpaid intern and help sustain decades-old American democracy, as it serves as a role model to other countries.

All workers at Vote Smart are sworn to non-partisanship in order to provide unbiased information to voters. We do not care who citizens cast their vote for. We do not support any candidate or political cause. We just want voters to have the candidate biographies, public statements, issue positions, voting records, special interest group ratings and campaign finance information that they NEED in order to cast an educated vote.

If you are planning on voting in the 2016 election, take five minutes out of your day and visit votesmart.org to find the facts on your candidates. While there you can use our candidate matching tool, VoteEasy, and find out how to register to vote in your state.

The founding fathers built our country to be better than dodged questions and false information. As a nation, we have a chance to elect leaders based on non-partisan facts instead of the latest attack ad. It is time to take back our vote, and bring the facts to election 2016.

Audrey D. Anchirinah

(Anchirinah is an intern for Vote Smart and a student at Claflin University)

Working together to help S.C. farmers

After the epic flooding last October, South Carolina farmers were left with crops destroyed in the field, enormous losses of income and a seemingly dismal harvest outlook. We are pleased and thankful to say that members of the S.C. General Assembly heard the devastation that farmers were facing and provided a meaningful solution by passing the S.C. Farm Aid bill.

We believe our legislators understand the tremendous economic impact that agribusiness has on our state, contributing $41.7 billion to the economy and providing more than 200,000 jobs. With total agricultural losses from the flooding approaching $600 million, farmers were left with insurmountable challenges as they struggled to recover from the disaster. We commend our senators and House members for listening and responding to our farm families as they told their stories of destruction to their livelihood.

We thank and recognize the diligence of South Carolina Farm Bureau and the S.C. Department of Agriculture for their work on this issue, as well as Clemson University for its support. We also appreciate the collaborative efforts of all organizations such as the S.C. Chamber of Commerce and many others that recognized the importance of keeping our farmers in business.

This is an excellent example of when we work together, we can have significant results -- in this case helping sustain South Carolina’s agribusiness industry.

Ronald L. Summers

Chairman

Board of Directors

Palmetto AgriBusiness Council

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