If you're thinking about skipping Tuesday's primary election, think again.

Our representative form of government uses primaries for two main purposes:

• to select a candidate to represent a political party for a certain race in the general election.

• to narrow the field of candidates in non-partisan races to two for each seat.

But there are other, less tangible reasons of equal importance.

One common complaint among voters come Election Day-which will be Nov. 6 this year-is that they feel as though they don't really have a choice. They feel forced to decide between the lesser of two evils or, in the case of a partisan race, to vote for a third-party candidate. (What some mistakenly call wasting your vote.)

While voting in the Aug. 14 primary might not change those feelings, casting this ballot does increase the odds of a candidate you can support winning in the end. Plus, the turnout is historically lower than on Election Day so an individual vote carries that much more weight in a primary.

Even if you're backing a "dark horse" candidate, voting for this who theoretically doesn't stand a chance also is one way you show support for that different point of view. This is how candidates gain confidence to run again. This is how new, innovative ideas gain traction. This is how new political parties are born.

And people who vote in primary elections also tend to be more engaged citizens. The more often and consistently you vote, the more say you have and the more interested you become in representative government-both foundations of democracy.

In short, voting in the primary is of primary importance. See you at the polls on Tuesday.