Usually, at this point, we would point out the importance of voting — as both a right and a responsibility — and cite statistics regarding the woeful percentage of eligible voters who take advantage of the opportunity, especially compared to citizens of other nations whose freedom to decide their leaders is more tenuous.

But given the level of interest, generally, in politics these days, and among Democrats in finding the person who can recapture the White House next November, we don’t think that will be necessary. The slate of Democratic candidates is strong, and as the number and passion of endorsement letters we ran over the weekend indicates, local voters are truly inspired, especially with the late results out of Iowa keeping more candidates in play.

Secretary of State William Gardner has estimated 250,000 Granite Staters will cast their ballots Tuesday, a strong turnout given that one side of the ballot features an incumbent president whose popularity among his party seems to be peaking.

As our nation continues to evolve, the sway of both New Hampshirites and those of caucusing Iowans are increasingly under the gun. Why should such small, overwhelmingly white populations be the mechanism for separating the wheat from the chaff early in the presidential campaigns? Our answer is the same one we give when asked why we continue to support the American system of government, with all its flaws: Because it beats all the alternatives we’ve seen.

The biggest threat to the New Hampshire primary isn’t that the state isn’t diverse enough to accurately “represent” the country. It isn’t the growing percentage of Americans of black, Hispanic or other ancestry, or that the state is too old, too wealthy or too cold and snowy.

The real issue is whether the nation still believes in retail politicking — in candidates being pressed and held accountable. Increasingly, candidates are eschewing give-and-take exchanges with voters and others who might ask tough questions, in favor of controlled speeches and teed-up questions designed to lead them into their prepared talking points.

Worst of all, with the gushing influx of money into the process, what the candidates say in person is more and more likely to be drowned out by the content of TV and radio ads, mailers and online content, often paid for by unknown sources.

The remedy lies in what the Granite State offers: informed, passionate voters, many of them independent of party allegiance, who are willing to take time out of their day to stand in line in the cold for the opportunity to look a candidate in the eye and have their say.

This primary cycle, we did get more participation from candidates willing to be grilled in exchanges with our editorial board — video of those interviews can be seen at — and we thank those who took the time. Our readers and online viewers are the more prepared thanks to them.

So if you don’t love a specific candidate or are waiting for one or two to emerge from the pack, or you’re just fed up with it all and feel your vote won’t matter, why vote Tuesday?

Last week’s caucus reporting debacle in Iowa may have irrevocably damaged that state’s place as the starting point of the primary season. It was the third straight caucus that featured questions about who won and/or by how much, and this gaffe was by far the worst.

While we feel voters in Iowa are as passionate and knowledgeable as those in the Granite State — well, nearly — we’ve long wondered about the caucuses. Even when the results are reported in a timely and accurate fashion, the process excludes those who aren’t in either of the two major parties, limiting participation.

In part due to that, the unexpectedly low turnout of Iowa voters last week has also been cited as an indication that maybe the small-state voters aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. That offers ammunition to those who would see both Iowa and New Hampshire dislodged from the head of the pack. The problems in Iowa could easily be used to paint New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary with the same broad brush.

And that’s an added reason for Granite State voters to show up Tuesday, regardless of party.

We believe in the first-in-the-nation primary not because it’s good for business in New Hampshire, but because it is, in many ways, the ideal test for those who would lead the free world.

A particularly strong turnout Tuesday will help solidify that for those seeking to change the status quo.