Editorial: Our election duty to get informed

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted2/25/2017 7:46 PM
  • General elections for local offices will take place in the suburbs on April 4, preceded by a few primary elections this Tuesday.

      General elections for local offices will take place in the suburbs on April 4, preceded by a few primary elections this Tuesday. Rick West | Staff Photographer

A candidate in one of the races on the ballot this spring told us the other day that until recently, he wasn't aware that there was an election on April 4.

He tried to portray this as a fault somehow with the electoral process, or at least with the effort local governments make to communicate with the public. It is, he said, one of the reasons he's running for office.

While we appreciate his candor, sorry, sir, you get no Brownie points with us. We greatly disagree.

Yes, government has a responsibility to engage with the citizenry.

But the citizenry has some responsibilities, too.

And one of the most fundamental ones is knowing when Election Day is.

And, it should go without saying, the citizenry also is responsible for knowing who and what is on the ballot, for knowing what's at stake and then making a point of learning enough to make informed choices.

This is fundamental.


Government by the people is not entitlement. It is obligation.

When we fail to cast an informed vote, we fail not only ourselves, but our neighbors as well.

When we fail to do that, we are complicit in ineffective self-governance and we fail every citizen in the land.

There is, in fact, a general election on April 4. (Preceded in a few communities by a primary election this Tuesday.)

These are local elections -- races that focus on municipalities, schools, parks, libraries, fire districts, townships and local referendums.

Local elections may lack the fanfare of the more glamorous races for president and governor, but they may deserve even more of your attention. As we pointed out in this space before the local elections in 2015, the work of local elected officials hits closer to home; almost everything they do affects you directly. And if you put a little effort into it, you can actually get to know local candidates.

So please, take this opportunity seriously, take your obligation to self-rule seriously.

We are committed to doing our part. We see coverage of local elections as one of our most important responsibilities. We see endorsing in as many of them as we can thoughtfully consider to be an important role for us to play, too.

Our endorsements start this week. We ask that you consider them as one factor -- but only one factor out of many -- in your citizen's work to learn what you can about the local elections.

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