Daily Herald columnist Jim Slusher: Join our discussion of election issues that need more attention

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Reliable, accessible, well-managed elections are the foundation of any well-functioning democracy. Even discounting the convulsive impact of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot and its aftermath, much has happened in recent years to remind us that the process of elections in our nation, state and local communities needs fresh examination.

And this is true not simply regarding how elections are conducted but sometimes also in what leadership positions they are used for.

So, beginning next Tuesday, our editorial board will begin a series of reflections that aims to generate conversation and eventually, we hope, action on a variety election issues that have not gotten much attention in our pages or, for that matter, in public policy discussions in Illinois. Some election topics — take the Electoral College at the federal level, for instance, or redistricting or even current federal legislation focusing on disruptions of the presidential election — get periodic, often intense attention. Many of these have already have worked their way in to the general consciousness, even if they haven’t yet reached a definitive conclusion.

But, most of the issues we’ll take on have barely entered the public arena in Illinois, if they are discussed at all. As we think you will agree, they demand close scrutiny by voters and policymakers alike, and we intend to show how dealing with them will advance and strengthen our democracy.

In separate editorials, our board will consider the merits of a growing trend toward ranked choice voting, reflect on the way in which we choose judges — from local circuit courts to the U.S. Supreme Court — appeal for more information to help cover local and federal candidates, review the processes for helping voters understand referendum questions and emphasize the importance of convenient access to the polls for voters.

We don’t expect all of our ideas to produce immediate concrete results. Indeed, some would require changes in either the U.S. or state constitutions. One will even envision the repeal of a 1970s-era Illinois constitution revision that has resulted in more polarization and less representation in the state General Assembly.

But all our board’s ideas aim to spark new or broader debate about issues we consider important to improving the ways we select candidates and make decisions through the ballot box. Along the way, we also want to hear from you, responding to our editorials and offering thoughts of your own about how we can increase participation and trust in our election systems. As you follow the series, please send your reactions to us in email at fencepost@dailyherald.com. Include “ELECTIONS” in the “Subject” field and limit your responses to a maximum of 150 words. We’ll collect responses and publish them in one or more special presentations at the end of our series.

In a deeply divided country, faith in our elections is teetering in ways it has rarely, if ever, teetered before. Restoring that faith for all voters will be a complicated, multifaceted political challenge, requiring not only statesmanship from the top but also a rejection of cynicism from all of us at the grass roots of our democracy. One step toward both goals can involve looking at some ideas we haven’t examined closely before and exploring some we’ve never considered.

Such will be the goal of our series. We hope you’ll join the discussion.

jslusher@dailyherald.com

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December 26, 2022 at 10:43PM

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