Editorial: Get informed, get a ballot and make Douglas County better by voting

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

It is duty day. Some people call it Election Day, but during these times, that seems like an inadequate descriptor.

It is not hyperbole to state that every eligible American citizen has a duty to vote. We all rely greatly on government, whether we love it or not. The current pandemic has reminded us that we rely on government not just for traditional matters of national defense, but for a variety of problems that simply are too large for us to tackle alone.

The federal government has had some epic failures in helping us fight this pandemic. At least, that is the view of this page. Perhaps it is not your view. With one simple check mark (actually, you darken an oval these days), you can do more to establish that view than 600 or 700 words on this page can do. That’s how powerful voting is.

But it is only powerful if you do it. And honestly, it is only beneficial if you do it as an informed citizen. There is no law requiring you to have a shred of knowledge about any candidate or any issue in order to cast a ballot. So, while you can be completely ignorant and still technically vote, as a more practical matter, you are guessing more than you are voting.

Hopefully, you don’t lead the rest of your life in that manner. It is better to look both ways before crossing the street, rather than guessing a car is not coming. If we all go to the polls just guessing, someday America will end up flattened too.

If you haven’t researched the candidates much, you still have time. Go online — ljworld.com/2020-election/ — to look at the Journal-World’s voters guide to learn basic background information and issue stances of many of the local candidates. We published that a few weeks ago, and more recently have published articles trying to get answers to last-minute questions, including one on questions about residency issues in a pair of County Commission races, details on courtroom experience of district attorney candidates, and one that asked sheriff’s candidates about past employment suspensions.

Don’t, however, look for us to tell you whom to vote for in any of the races. We don’t offer endorsements. With a staff our size, we would rather spend our time gathering factual information to help you make your decision rather than writing opinions hoping to guide your decision. One thing the world is not short of these days is opinion, but it does have a dearth of reported information that has gone through the journalistic process.

As for what to do next, get to a polling place, if you haven’t already cast your ballot by mail. If you are unsure of where your polling place is, go to douglascountyks.org and look for the “Elections Hub” section of the website. You can check your voter registration status, see a sample ballot and get the address of your polling location.

Also, remember that if you are a registered voter, you can vote in this primary election, even if you aren’t yet a member of a political party. People who are registered voters but aren’t affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties, can go to a polling place and request a ballot from either party. (Not both, though.) You will fill out paperwork that technically is changing your voter registration to one of the two parties. But you also can fill out a form that changes it back to unaffiliated status on Sept. 1, which is the first day such changes are allowed.

The polls in Kansas are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. That’s 12 hours to do your duty. Heaven help you if the day produces something more important for you to do.

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