Editorial: Time to pay attention to election campaigns
A lot of special interest groups don't want you to pay much attention to the primary election campaigns, and some candidates don't want you to, either.
That's because very low turnout in a primary election makes for much easier victories for candidates who espouse extreme ideas, push benefactors' agendas or just aren't well-qualified to make decisions on your behalf.
And sometimes, in towns or neighborhoods where one political party is much stronger than the others, no challengers surface for the general election in November.
That's when the primary determines who will hold office for the next two or four years and make decisions that affect you.
That's when the outcome is based on the decisions of 17 percent of the over-18 population, as it was in Illinois' last presidential primary in 2012.
Election season seems never-ending these days, with campaigns for one set of offices beginning even before the election is held for another set of offices. It can all become a blur of TV ads and robocalls, and it's easy to tune out.
That's why we're pointing out that now is the time to start paying attention.
Candidates just finished filing their paperwork to run for many state, county and federal offices, from county clerks to state lawmakers to representatives in Congress.
Early voting starts Feb. 4 for the primary that's on March 15.
Presidential candidates and their delegates also will be on the ballot, and Illinois' position in the middle of the primary pack means our state could have a strong role in determining the eventual nominees for president, especially among Republican candidates.
Surely you've had something to say about our nation's approach to the Middle East, global warming, health insurance, taxes or other pressing issues.
Or about Illinois' public pensions, school funding, social service cuts, late bill payments, partisan posturing and lack of a budget for half this year.
Or about law enforcement and criminal justice at the county level.
You haven't earned the right to gripe if you haven't bothered to vote.
It's pretty easy to do. You can register to vote or update your registration at www.elections.il.gov/votinginformation/register.aspx.
The deadline is Feb. 16, but even if you miss it, you'll have another chance. You can register in person through Election Day at some public buildings and courthouses if you vote at the same time.
You can vote as early as Feb. 4. You can vote by mail without having to declare a reason.
Starting in January, you'll find information about candidates and races at dailyherald.com, including questionnaires filled out by the candidates, news articles about each race and our endorsements.
Voting has never been easier. Take a little time to get to know the issues and candidates, and make sure your opinion gets counted on March 15.