It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the statewide primaries taking place today.

Put simply, the decisions that voters make in their booths today will set the stage for the next three months of political combat, winnowing the choices available in November. And while a relatively large number are expected to turn out — some 468,500 Kansans — that’s only 26 percent of the state’s registered voters.

On the Republican side, these primaries will decide whether moderates or conservatives are ascendant. Former Gov. Sam Brownback made a point of targeting moderates, and conservative majorities in 2012 made his controversial tax policies a reality. Moderates fought back in 2016, taking enough spots to end that approach.

Conservatives are once again targeting moderates this year, and how primary voters understand the choices of the past two years could prove decisive.

On the Democratic side, primary voters have followed a vibrantly contested gubernatorial nomination. ...

Across the state, voters are also grappling with a politician who isn’t on the ballot.

That would be President Trump. He carried Kansas handily in the presidential election, but there are sizable numbers of residents who have loudly rejected his brand of populist, protectionist, oh-so-personal politics. The 4,000 who turned out in Wichita to see Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last month suggest the state’s politics aren’t as settled as many pundits think.

At this stage, on this day, we expect that most readers have made up their minds. …

But what’s most important is that as many Kansans as possible turn out to vote. Barely more than a quarter of registered voters isn’t acceptable. We must make sure that our leaders represent the most people possible.

For years, the refrain of the discouraged citizen has been that politicians are all the same, and that individual votes don’t matter. The events of the last couple of years — both in Kansas and across the United States — should put that tired complaint to rest.

Your vote matters. Your choice matters. Your vision of our state matters.

Today, you can help determine the course of the Republican and Democratic parties in Kansas. Today, you can help shape the future we will all share.

Cast your ballot. And thank you.

— The Topeka Capital-Journal