The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 2, 2014

Know facts before voting

The Commercial-News

---- — Illinois voters will head to the polls March 18 to select their respective parties’ candidates in the state’s primary election. Among them will be 17-year-olds, who will be allowed to cast ballots for the first time.

A change in Illinois law allows qualified residents who will be 18 by the time November’s general election rolls around to vote in the primaries. The change makes sense. If a person’s vote will count in November, that person should have the opportunity to select candidates.

Turnout for primary elections are notoriously poor. Former state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, even tried to make Illinois primaries non-partisan in an effort to increase the number of votes.

First-time voters, however, often bring excitement to the process their older counterparts lack. But many experienced voters carry with them something the first-timers might be missing — knowledge.

It’s important every vote cast be an educated one. Voters should take the time to learn about all of the candidates, not just the ones in one political party or the other. They should know what sources provide accurate, non-partisan information and which ones carry a political slant. And they should ignore negative campaign ads altogether, regardless of the source.

Young voters also should know what will happen when they walk into a polling place. What do the election judges do? Where do they get a ballot? How do the voting machines work? Classes such as the one mentioned in a story in today’s Commercial-News go a long way toward taking away the uncertainty and even fear that might keep some younger voters from casting a ballot.

An informed vote is a better vote. That’s a lesson all ages should take to heart.