Daily Herald opinion: Endorsements engage voters and advance goals of democracy

This editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board

On Sunday, the Daily Herald will begin a semiannual ritual that we intend as a strengthening of our democracy, an opportunity to engage voters in discussion of the issues and candidates in the 2022 midterm elections.

The endorsement of political candidates is a practice that has begun to fade from the function list of many newspapers for a variety of reasons. Industrywide staffing declines of recent years have made it tougher for some to keep up with the intense demands of researching and interviewing large numbers of candidates. Many readers have difficulty recognizing, or acknowledging, the solid wall reputable newspapers impose between their editorial board's opinions about candidates and their writers' objective reporting on them, and that conflict can lead to mistrust in a paper's reporting as well as alienate readers who simply don't like an editorial board's choices.

These are not entirely new factors, however. And the Daily Herald continues to feel both great faith in its readers' ability to distinguish between the paper's reporting and opinion functions and a sense of responsibility to investigate races with a level of vigor and depth that many readers cannot invest.

While we recognize that our endorsement choices can frustrate or anger some readers, we also strive to be accepted as a trusted friend. Friends do not always agree, even on deeply held matters, but they also know how to rise above differences and value what they appreciate about each other.

And fundamentally, endorsements represent one of the most direct examples of an opinion page's goal of engaging your thinking. Considering opinions different from your own can both challenge and strengthen your own views. Seeing opinions that align with yours can similarly reinforce your resolve.

There is one instance in this election in which we are stepping back from this function. We are not endorsing in the race for governor because of a controversy that arose when Gov. J.B. Pritzker publicly attacked our parent company's decision to print publications that were produced and paid for by a conservative outlet that has no connection to the company or the Daily Herald newspaper. That controversy surely would prompt some to view an endorsement of Pritzker as a demonstration of fealty to him while an endorsement of his opponent Darren Bailey would appear simply to be retribution for the governor's criticism.

That is a one-time decision, however, unique to this time and this race. In other races for Congress, state office, the General Assembly and Congress, our editors are steeped in research and candidate interviews and have prepared thoughtful assessments, we hope you'll find useful as you prepare to vote.

Expanded early in-person voting begins Monday, Oct. 24. The polls will be open for traditional voting on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

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