Americans should put their newfound engagement with politics and government affairs to use — by voting in upcoming elections.

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WITH our democracy and the health of millions at stake, Americans are rightly focused on the bumbling Trump administration and vicious health-care policy emerging from Congress.

The silver lining — or should we say gold plating? — is renewed civic engagement spurred by Trump’s election and the ensuing controversies.

Now is the time to apply that renewed passion and interest in politics and governance.

Not registered to vote?

Go online and register with the Washington Secretary of state office.

https://weiapplets.sos.wa.gov/MyVote/#/login

Ballots will be mailed in a few weeks for the Aug. 1 primary election. The questions are closer to home this year — city council, school board and port races, among others — but they still have major consequences for the Puget Sound region and the state.

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The best opportunity to influence the direction of your government is to learn about candidates and issues — and vote.

Keep marching and protesting. Let your friends and family know your stance via social media and plaster your car or bike with bumper stickers if you like.

But don’t forget that the surest, and easiest, way to make a difference is to vote. It may not provide the immediate gratification of a good Facebook post but voting has actual and lasting effect.

Voting also gives weight and authority to one’s political commentary. Those who don’t bother voting silence their voice, and their ability to complain in good conscience about the direction their city, county and state are heading.

A handful of legislative races are especially consequential this year. Whether Republicans continue to control the state Senate with a one-vote majority may depend on the outcome of the race to succeed the late state Sen. Andy Hill in the Eastside’s 45th District.

Primary voters in Seattle will select their next mayor from a buffet of 21 candidates. Two will face off in the Nov. 7 general election to replace outgoing Mayor Ed Murray and guide the city through its next phase of growth.

To help voters make their decisions, this editorial board is interviewing dozens of candidates and will begin publishing our endorsements next week. Come back to Seattletimes.com/opinion to read them.

Actual voting takes little time now that ballots in Washington are sent by mail. Although informed voting does take some homework.

Even so, just 25 percent of King County voters participated in the last primary that did not involve a presidential campaign, in 2015. Only 40 percent voted in that year’s general election. Statewide, just 24 percent of Washington voters participated in the 2015 primary and 38 percent voted in the general election.

Keep this in mind as we lament the gutting of the federal health-care system in the coming weeks.

It’s no wonder the Senate majority is emboldened to make closed-door deals on health-care policies that will leave millions of their constituents worse off, unable to obtain or afford medical care when they need it most.

They’re keenly aware of low turnout numbers. Perhaps they believe that no matter how outrageously they act and how much harm they cause, most of us still won’t care enough to vote.

Let’s start proving them wrong in August.