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Local Column

Sahly: Check out our brand new Election Central

One of the best things we can do as a media company is to provide our readers with an easy outlet to make informed choices come election time.

I'm proud to say we're doing that better than ever at Shaw Media Illinois.

If you visit you'll find a brand new voter guide experience to help you make your choices at the ballot box.

We've partnered with BallotReady, a non-partisan company, to bring you a fantastic user experience to dive into the background of every candidate on your ballot, where they stand on the issues that matter to you, and to help you make a plan to vote.

It's a completely personalized experience, too. Just enter your address, choose a Republican, Democratic, Libertarian or Green party ballot and you'll be taken to all of the race information you need for what will be on your ballot.

We've got questionnaires answered by federal, state and local candidates, plus where they stand on a wide range of issues. A big thank you goes out to the candidates who replied to our questionnaire. We touched on a variety of topics – the economy, health care, legislation, government reform, criminal justice, guns, and much more.

Whether you're on your phone, your tablet, your laptop or your desktop, it's the best user experience we've ever offered for a voting guide. You've got one easy place for the races you care about to get the candidates' background information, experience, education and most importantly their explanation, in their own words, of how they would deal with the policies and issues you care about.

My favorite parts, though, are the My Ballot and Make A Plan To Vote features.

As you go through each race on your ballot, you can make a choice of who you want to vote for (note: this isn't an official ballot, you'll still have to actually go through the process of voting), and add it to your ballot. Just click "Add To My Ballot" when you've found a candidate you like. Our voter guide will save your choices as you go.

You can then print that ballot out and take it with you when you vote. You can also email it to yourself as a reminder. It will help you remember your own research and who you want to vote for.

After that, it's time for you to Make A Plan To Vote.

Our voter guide calendar has dates marked for early voting and election day itself. Choose the best day for you. We'll also have the polling place you can go to on the day of your choice. After you select your polling place, pick the time you want to vote. You can then set up a reminder to be sent to you via text or email, and add it to the calendar on your phone or desktop.

You can also check to see if you're registered to vote, what documents you may need to bring with you to your polling place, get directions to your voting site, and even share your ballot choices on social media.

So give it a try, I think you'll find an informative, easy experience that will help you make the most informed choices in the 2020 primary election.

• John Sahly is the Shaw Media Illinois Editor. Reach him at

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