It may not feel like it, but for many in greater Portland, today is Election Day.

If you live in South Portland, Cape Elizabeth or part of Scarborough, you get to vote on who should fill the District 7 state Senate seat left vacant by a resignation.

The candidates are Democrat Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth and Republican Louis Maietta of South Portland.

It’s not the only thing on the ballot. Local school budgets will be up before the voters for approval in those same three towns and the city of Portland.

The referendum requirement for school budgets was one of the most important aspects of the school district consolidation law, and one that affects every district in the state, not just those compelled to merge.

Knowing that they have to bring their budgets back to the public for approval has affected school departments and provided them with an incentive they didn’t have before to keep costs down. But the incentive will not be there if people do not take advantage of their right and turn out to the polls.

The tumultuous last few months in Augusta should give Mainers all the information that they need to know why it is important to turn out for a special election.

Although the outcome of this race won’t tip the balance of power in the Senate, where the Republicans have a comfortable majority, it will have an influence on the makeup of the body as it sorts through crucial issues for the state’s future.

Unfortunately, even important special elections like today’s often get very low turnout, giving significant influence to the people who show up and vote. It’s not only a civic obligation, it’s an opportunity to have a say in how your community and state are run. Don’t miss it.