With two hot races — for Congress District 21 and Assembly District 115 — and a smattering of town elections set for Nov. 4, letters are already pouring in to the Press-Republican.

October is always one of the busiest times in the newsroom, both in terms of covering the many candidates who are running for office and in the need to give local residents a chance to voice their opinions about them.

People sometimes suggest that we ban political letters. They are just advertisements for candidates, they say, and are boring to read.

First of all, we are a newspaper and firm believers in the First Amendment, so we wouldn’t consider restricting the ability of people to express their thoughts. The Press-Republican offers more forums for sharing viewpoints than any other local media: Letters to the Editor, online comments, Facebook and Speakout.

Also, we believe that people can find out useful information about candidates by reading letters. Many of the writers say more than “so-and-so is great.” They talk about specific acts and attributes of the candidates and mention how they have performed with community organizations.

Sometimes, they share their criticisms of the candidates’ proposals or past performance.

But we do have some restrictions for how these opinions are shared.

If you are emailing Speakout about specific federal, state or local candidates, don’t waste your time. Speakout is anonymous, and we think people should be identified when they criticize — or compliment — someone running for office.

You can share your opinion with articles at pressrepublican.com. Our new Livefyre comment system can be found at the bottom of every article.

People need to sign up to comment, using an email address. Many people participate in Livefyre through Facebook. Comments go through a monitoring system that deletes those that use inappropriate language. Readers can also flag comments that they think cross the line.

The most common way for people to discuss the candidates is through Letters to the Editor. We receive hundreds of letters during political season.

To ensure that all letters appear by vote day, the Press-Republican has set a deadline of Friday, Oct. 17, for letters about the elections. That will give us enough time to process the letters and schedule them to run.

The Press-Republican has a strict 300-word limit for letters. Each must include the full name, address and phone number of the author.

No form letters will be accepted; each must be written by the person submitting the letter.

Email letters to letters@pressrepublican.com or fax them to 561-3362.

Voters might still be deciding who to support on Nov. 4. If you want to try to influence their decision, a Letter to the Editor is a well-read means.

But send your letters soon; the Oct. 17 deadline isn’t that far off.

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