A bitter, highly-charged campaign season ends Tuesday when voters on Martha’s Vineyard and elsewhere go to the polls to cast ballots in the mid-term election.

With control of Congress in the balance at an interval of unprecedented division in the country, there are signs that voter turnout — often lackluster in non-presidential election years — could be unusually high. Even here on the Island, where voters are unlikely to affect the division of power in Washington, voter registration is up in most towns, early voting has been brisk and town clerks report a steady flow of absentee ballots leading up to election day.

More engagement in the political process may turn out to be the silver lining in the dark clouds that, like Monday’s quixotic weather, threaten to engulf the country.

But voting is only the first step.

Across the nation, there has been a surge of interest in running for political office, especially among women and minority groups, not only for congressional seats, but in state and local elections as well. Some of these made appearances this summer on the Island, which has a well-earned reputation as a fundraising hub, especially for Democratic candidates.

For a place that from afar seems so politically involved, however, the Vineyard has yet to see a new vanguard stepping up to run for Island offices. Contested races, both in the fall general election and the spring town election, remain the exception rather than the rule.

This year, there are nine people running for nine seats on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and eight people running for seven seats on the Dukes County Commission. Though many of these candidates are well qualified, lack of competition for office inevitably creates lack of interest from the voters who understand that their vote is, for all intents and purposes, unnecessary.

Citizens who decry the lack of leadership on Island issues might take this moment to consider what – beyond showing up at their polling booth — they can do to make a difference.

That said, there are important issues on this year’s ballot and several races to decide. Voters have a choice for Superior Court clerk and for a state senator for the Cape and the Islands.

They will help decide pivotal statewide ballot questions, including the fiercely debated Question 1, which seeks to establish strict nurse-patient staffing ratios in commonwealth hospitals, and the far less talked about Question 3, which seeks to retain a Massachusetts law that protects the civil rights of people who are transgender.

These questions, along with the races for state governor, secretary of state, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, will be decided by those who go to the polls. The people we elect will represent our interests for the next two to six years, and voters are urged to educate themselves about the issues and participate. Even if a race you care about appears lopsided, don’t stay home on Tuesday. Every vote matters.

Polls are open in every Island town from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The Gazette will report local results on its website at vineyardgazette.com as soon as they are available.

Please remember to vote.