Now is the time to educate yourself about election

Elections are right around the corner. In fact, the Illinois primary is June 28.

Now is the time to get focused on the elections. First and foremost, in likely contested elections. Getting the strongest candidates elected in primaries lays the groundwork for winning in November and having the best candidates serve us.

That means that voters need to start doing their homework. That does not mean watching a barrage of commercials or reading mailers that, more often than not, are either filled with promises that people will find appealing or bashing that distorts the truth about opponents.

It similarly does not mean you should look for candidates who have the most individual endorsements. Of course, you may have a high regard for someone's opinion, and that can be valuable, but you can't be sure why someone lines up behind a candidate. It may be friendship or reciprocation for support or contributions in past elections, and may not reflect where a candidate stands on issues you care about.

On the other hand, endorsements from organizations or entities that reflect your values or positions on issues may be reflective of the fact that the candidate has taken positions that are consistent with their ideas. Yours may align with them as well.

There are many positions for which we must elect the best possible candidate, and as citizens and voters, we have a civic duty to take the time to learn about the candidates and what they believe in and what they have done - or what they have not done.

If they have been in office, they have had the opportunity to support programs or cast votes that show their true colors. Have the programs they supported or votes they cast helped us or hurt us? Are they consistent with our values?

If they are new candidates, do their positions or ideas seem to be something that can bring about changes we would like to see implemented? Do they have the type of experiences that will contribute to being successful in the offices they are seeking? Do the candidates' ideas or positions align with our values, or are the agendas for which they are advocating inconsistent with our views?

Yes, these thoughts seem basic, but how often do many of us not focus on the upcoming elections until they are upon us. With early voting starting in May, the time to start thinking about the candidates is now.

The sad part of the process is that many citizens don't even vote in the primaries, which means that a small percentage of the voters end up determining who our choices will be in November.

I think we have all come to realize that elections have consequences. If we don't participate, or participate without thinking through our choices, we get stuck with people in office who will take us down a path we don't want to go, or take us backward, or destroy or diminish things we care about.

It's important not to be lulled into supporting candidates - or opposing them - due to implications that are thrown out, but don't hold up in the light of day. In this hyperpartisan environment we are living in, we must not be deceived into voting for or against candidates on issues that are fabricated.

As for the offices that we are going to be voting on, they all matter and can affect our lives, whether they be judicial, executive or legislative. My intent is to sound the alarm clock and urge all to start thinking about the upcoming elections.

They do matter in our local communities, throughout the state and around the nation. If you start focusing now, we may end up with the best people in office to serve us. I urge all to learn about the candidates who will be on the ballot - urge your friends and neighbors, too.

Go to their webpages, read their answers in candidate guides in the papers, and go to candidate forums. Let's all become informed voters - and then get out and vote!

• Elliott Hartstein of Northbrook is an attorney and a former Buffalo Grove village president. If you are interested in possibly discussing this topic further over Zoom with Elliott and others, you can email him at

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