The fall election is only five weeks away and its outcome carries significant implications not only for Illinois but for the nation.

Illinois is a battleground state, attracting increasing attention as speculation grows about the possibility of the shifts in power in Congress.  Among the seats poised for a possible change are the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Roland Burris and U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, a Democrat whose district includes a large part of the Pantagraph area.

And, of course, there is that battle for the governor’s seat between Republican state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and Democrat Pat Quinn, who became governor following the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich.

In other words, there is certainly enough going on that should attract the interest of the most casual voter, and we haven’t even mentioned other statewide races.

Perhaps you haven’t made up your mind about who will get your vote — or even if you will vote. There’s still time for that.

But you are running out of time to be sure you are eligible to vote.

The deadline for registering or making address changes for the Nov. 2 election is a week from today — Oct. 5.

If you don’t register Tuesday, you won’t be able to go to the polls on Nov. 2 or ask for an absentee ballot.

There is grace period registration from Oct. 6-26. But people who go that route must vote at the same time they register; they can’t vote on Election Day.

If you are not sure whether you are registered to vote — or whether you are registered at the correct address, you can check your status at the Illinois Board of Elections website http://www.elections.il.gov. Click on the spot that says, “Am I registered to vote?”

There are also places to check on the McLean County government website — http://www.co.mclean.il.us/CountyClerk/Voter_Info.aspx — and the Bloomington Election Commission website: www.becvote.org.

From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday you can register at the offices of the Bloomington Election Commission, 115 E. Washington St., the Government Center in downtown Bloomington. You do not have to be a Bloomington resident to register at that location.

The McLean County clerk’s office is in the same building. Regular office hours for the county clerk and Bloomington Election commission are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Being properly registered is only the first step. You also need to do your homework to learn about the candidates before voting. But unless you are registered, you can’t participate.

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