By now, you’ve probably noticed the ever-present “register to vote” table in Seymour Gallery. For most of you, this will be your first chance to vote in a presidential election, so we encourage you to exercise one of your most fundamental rights as an American citizen and do just that. But we also want to emphasize the importance of not doing so blindly. Before you head to the polls on Nov. 6, know what issues and policies are up for discussion. Know where candidates stand — nationally and locally. And let us know how we can help you stay informed.
It’s common during an election season to focus solely on what’s happening in Washington, which certainly can seem overwhelming enough without the added pressure of keeping up with local elections. From the intricacies of the American health care system to the complicated effects of taxes on the economy, understanding the issues takes time, especially when easily digestable, nonpartisan information can be difficult to find. Even if you can get a handle on all of that, you then have to know where each candidate stands. Now multiply all of that work by the number of state and local races in your district. Very quickly, staying informed can become a full-time job.
But staying informed is crucial. It’s tempting to walk into the ballot box and fill in the bubble by every Democrat or every Republican. Parties exist to support certain platforms, and remembering that one side generally supports a cause while the other doesn’t can be simpler than combing through the intricacies of each candidate’s positions. Yet we urge you to go deeper. Party affiliation is just one part of a candidate’s identity, and it should only be one factor when making decisions about how to vote.
We’re here to help you filter through the information and report differing perspectives on everything from local renovation projects to national security establishments. We want to know what intrigues you, what mystifies you and what you want to know more about. The proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution? Presidential candidates’ positions on the environment? How changes in student loan policy could affect you? As a newspaper, our job is to keep the public informed, but our resources are limited, so help determine what fills our pages. Help us know how to help you this election season.
To see what we’ve already done, check out our Election 2012 special topics page. If something’s missing, let us know using our new Suggest a Story feature (http://goo.gl/J6WNJ), which you can find at the bottom of every page.