Staff Editorial: Everyone’s vote matters

Every election you hear: it’s important to vote, now more than ever. What makes this year different from those other years? Yes there is a presidential election this year, but with the electoral college, some people question if their vote even matters. The fact is that all votes matter.

People may feel as though their vote does not count or that they do not like the options for the presidential candidate. While a person’s vote may not necessarily count toward the presidential election, as Illinois has historically been a blue state and the number of people who only vote for the presidential election, fulfilling the right to vote is critical. Local elections tend to be much closer and arguably more important to vote in. 

Voting is incredibly important and necessary to a well functioning community. It is not even necessary to vote on every issue for where a person does vote to count. It can be taxing to look up every single candidate and every single issue to see who to vote for. 

“You have a right to cast your ballot in a non-disruptive atmosphere free of interference. Vote if you’re in line by 7:00 p.m. Vote by provisional ballot if your registration is not found. Vote at your old voting site if you have moved within 30 days of the election. Request assistance in voting, if qualified. Bring newspaper endorsements or sample ballots into the voting booth but take them with you when you finish voting. Protect the secrecy of your ballot. Receive a new ballot if you make a mistake or change your mind. Screen your ballot after voting to ensure it is complete and correct. Have your ballot counted fairly and impartially. If you believe these rights have been violated, call the Lake County Clerk’s office at 847-377-2400,” according to the Voters Bill of Rights from the Lake County Illinois government. 

Phone calls are strongly discouraged unless to an emergency service, but voters are allowed to look up candidates and public information while in the booth if need be.

When people vote, there will be a no electioneering zone starting 100 feet from the door where it forbids showing support or opposition to candidates or referendums on the ballot. 

The main choices on the Illinois ballot are the proposed amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution, the U.S. President, The Illinois Senate, the State Senate and State House District.

While many already have a preference of one of the two party candidates, third party candidates will still be listed, along with a fill-in option. While people have the option to vote third party, many advise against this because a vote for a third party is considered a negative vote against another candidate. The candidates listed for president are incumbent Donald Trump (Rep), Joe Biden (Dem), Brian T. Carrol (American Solidarity Party), Howie Hopkins (Grn), Jo Jorgenson (L), Gloria La Riva (Party for socialism and liberation). 

The proposed amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution will give the state the ability to impose higher tax rates on those with higher income levels and lower tax rates on those with middle or lower income levels removing the portion of the “flat tax.” This amendment does not itself change tax rates and would allow for them to change taxes in the future without public vote as it is now a part of the Illinois Constitution. The federal government and a majority of other states already do it this way.

Although voters are allowed to leave this blank, it should be noted that failure to vote on this amendment will be counted as a negative vote because either a convention will be called or the amendment will become effective if three-fifths of voters vote for it. 

On the ballot for the U.S. Senate there are the candidates incumbent Dick Durbin (Dem), Mark Curran (Rep), Willie Wilson (O), David Black (Grn) and  Danny Malouf (L). 

For House of Representatives District 10 there are incumbent Brad Schneider (Dem) and Valarie Ramirez Mukherjee (Rep) and District 62 incumbent Sam Yingling (Dem) and Jim Walsh (Rep).

For State Senate District 31, incumbent Melinda Bush (Dem) and Christopher Kasperski (Rep) are running.

Those with a 60046 zip code can vote for House of Representative District 64 incumbent Tom Webner (Rep) and Leslie Armstrong-MsLeod (Dem) instead of House Seat for District 62. 60046 zip codes will also not have the option to vote for State Senate District 31.

Illinois Second District Appellate Court Retention] is looking for reelection for both incumbents, Ann B Jorgenson and Mary Seminara-Schostok (Nonpartisan), along with the option to vote for a Circuit Clerk Corner Recorder, States Attorney County Board Members North Shore Water Reclamation District Trustee and whether to eliminate the recorder’s office.

Young voters are called to action almost every election, but almost every election the number of young voters disappoints.

“Young people are very interested in politics. They have high levels of the civic precursors of participation. The real problem is they don’t follow through on their civic intentions,” said Duke University professor and co-author of Making Young Voters, Sunshine Hillygus in a “Will 2020 be the year of the young voter” article from NPR.

Youth voters could possibly have just as much as an impact on elections as older voters if they were to all follow through and vote. 

Young voters compromise 37 percent of eligible voters, making up a similar fraction of eligible voters as boomers and pre-boomers, according to census data analyzed by the Brookings Institution and reported in the NPR article. 

Youth energy toward voting increased with a surge of protests in 2018. And although the voting turn out did increase, it still did not increase to a full capacity. 

“There was a lot of youth activism around the Parkland mass shooting. There were headlines saying young people were more energized than ever before,” Hillygus said in the article. “And there were unprecedented levels of turnout. But it’s worth remembering that unprecedented surge was an increase from like 20 percent turnout to something like 30 percent turnout. It’s still just a really low level of participation.”

According to Illinois Channel website, young people are frequently ignored by political campaigns as they tend to focus on historically reliable voters, which most of the time ends up being older voters. Young voters have only had the chance to vote in a handful of recent elections and do not have an established voting record, making political campaigns less interested in targeting them. Young voters are more likely to not vote because they can get overwhelmed through the voting process, and they will not always feel comfortable voting for a candidate they do not know that well. On NPR Illinois, Barbara Sprunt reported in “Will 2020 be the year of the young voter?” that while older people are more likely to vote while being less informed, there is a constant debate on if people are a good voter for voting without being well informed. Young voters tend to believe that they are not qualified to vote because they do know enough about the candidates. 

There are many ways to vote. Voters also have the option to vote by mail. For this current election over 1 million mail ballot applications have been requested in Illinois but the number of mail-in ballots is expected to be lower than this. Vote by mail has been especially encouraged this year due to COVID-19.

“Voting by mail provides a safe, secure and convenient voting option for those concerned about COVID-19. It also will help ease congestion at in-person polling places during early voting and on Election Day,” said State Board of Elections Executive Director Steve Sandvoss in Illinois State of Board Press Release on over one million mail-in ballots requested.

It is recommended to submit a mail-in ballot as soon as possible. Ballots could have been mailed as early as Sept 24, the first day of early voting. Applications will be accepted through Oct 29, but it is recommended for you to have already voted by mail if you are choosing to do so. 

It does not matter how a person votes. What matters is that a person votes. Everyone’s vote is important.