Voters around Illinois who have not voted early will head to polling places today in order to select people to serve as their elected representatives.
Or some of them will, anyway. Historically, these local elections have the lowest participation rates. In some places, voter turnout has been 10 percent or less. It should be much higher. The people elected Tuesday will have a greater influence on our everyday lives than federal or state officeholders.
They will make decisions about how our communities spend our money, including your property taxes. They make critical decisions about the future of our cities and villages, parks and libraries, and our community schools and community colleges – all of which directly contribute to our quality of life.
Yet people skip these elections for any number of reasons. Often, they say they don’t know enough about the candidates to cast an informed vote. As of Monday afternoon, nearly 4,200 in the county already had cast votes.
As always, the Northwest Herald is here as a resource. We sent questionnaires to candidates in many contested races, which you can find online at our Election Central site, nwherald.com/election. Reporters have written stories about many of these races, as well. Some people say they don’t vote because they don’t trust politicians.
Generally speaking, the people running in these races are not politicians. Most will serve terms of four to six years as volunteers and receive no pay for their time. Those who are paid will receive a stipend of maybe a few thousand dollars a year. Nobody’s quitting their day job.
In most cases, people are running for these positions because they care about their communities and want to serve them. They may have a lot of ideas, they may be running because they mostly want to address a single issue – or they may not have any ideas in particular other than that they think they can make a difference.
Regardless, those elected will be our neighbors. They will be accountable to the public they serve on a level that the president, governor, or other officials are not. It’s up to the public to make an informed decision about which of these candidates should have the opportunity to put their plans into action.
Polls will be open today from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you’re not sure where your polling place is, check with the McHenry County clerk’s website, or call the office at 815-334-4242.
The people elected today will make important decisions about our communities, and it’s up to voters to ensure those who win are representative of the people they serve.
Those who take a few minutes to learn about the candidates and take the time to vote will have an outsized voice in shaping the future of their community. We urge everyone to seize the opportunity.