Ever have a sad laugh at the expense of those societies where a strongman holds show elections and runs unopposed, or against token hand-picked opposition — and is “elected” with 98% of the vote?

Our system is different. We can choose — from the Republican, the Democrat, or a protest vote for a candidate from a smaller party, like the Libertarians or the Green Party.

Those are the choices the vast majority of voters will have in November.

There are, however, voters with special privileges who’ll be deciding who most other voters get to choose from. They’re enrolled party members — Republicans and Democrats — who bother to vote in primaries.

There are primaries in both major parties next week, with five Republicans and two Democrats seeking nominations for governor, three Republicans and two Democrats competing for lieutenant governor, three Democrats and two Republicans who want to be attorney general, two-way contests in both parties for treasurer, and Republican contests to run for U.S. Senator and comptroller — challenging incumbent Democrats.

Voting is Tuesday, Aug. 14, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the four district polling places. But only enrolled party members can vote. Unaffiliated voters have up until noon Monday to join a party and participate in either Republican or Democratic primaries. It can be done at town hall (regular hours 8:30 to 4:30, special hours Saturday morning 9 to 11) or online online through the secretary of the state’s website: www.ct.gov/sots.

Vote in Tuesday’s primaries. Join the self-appointed aristocracy that determines the candidates others get to choose from: the people who care enough to participate.