Columns | Daily Chronicle

Rettke: Voting remains a powerful way to stand up for your beliefs

If we’ve learned anything since the 2020 General Election, it’s that a small number of votes can make or break tight political races.

It’s not surprising these days that one might feel a bit cynical about the state of our country. About the power of one vote, or its seeming lack of impact.

In the November 2020 general election, DeKalb County recorded a historic voter turnout. At just over 75% turnout with 63,841 registered voters in the county, the 2020 presidential election saw 47,982 ballots cast.

Just months later, however, during the April 2021 consolidated election (where several significant mayoral races were contested) just a fraction of voters turned up, at 14.59% turnout. Many races at the local level in DeKalb County were decided by just a handful of votes.

The DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder’s Office told Daily Chronicle reporters this week that 5,395 registered voters have cast early voting ballots as of Thursday.

It’s time we get back to those November 2020 numbers.

On Tuesday, all 24 seats of the DeKalb County Board will be up for reelection. Seven districts, 14 of those seats, will be contested. The board is an elected body that sets policy for countywide residents, and votes on the budgets that include the DeKalb County sheriff’s (and jail), health department, state’s attorney and clerk’s offices.

Voters also will decide Tuesday who will next administer DeKalb County elections and oversee county record-keeping, as they choose between Democrat Linh Nguyen and Republican Tasha Sims for DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder.

This election brings even higher stakes for those who will hold power across the state and in Washington D.C. Elections are up in the General Assembly, in Springfield and in Congress.

Like most election cycles, debate has ramped up on a variety of issues. It somehow feels more significant this time around, doesn’t it? Lawmakers elected for the next two years will set policy on things that matter a lot of people: Health care, employment, retirement, safety, public education, taxes and more. Things that have, to many I’m sure, felt in peril over the past several years.

Let’s do our part to make sure our voices are heard on these issues.

By this time next week, we will likely know who will be the next Illinois Governor, Illinois Attorney General, Secretary of State and more. We’ll know who will take up seats in our newly redrawn state congressional and assembly races.

We’ll also know – pending a smooth election count – how many DeKalb County residents showed up to the polls.

It’s our chance to pick a representative to uphold our values – and a chance to subsequently hold them to account if they don’t.

Free and fair elections are what often set us, as Americans, apart from other countries in the world. We have a process that has been proven to be fair and open, despite efforts to purport otherwise.

So, participating in that process is vital to its longevity, and to our ability to move forward.

It’s also important to vet your candidates. Read up on the issues, do your own research, decide what values and issues matter to you and make sure you do your due diligence to support a candidate who aligns with them. Look up their voting records (for U.S. congressional votes visit, and for the Illinois General Assembly visit

Some may be inclined to despair or become disengaged by the status quo, because the fear is they don’t have enough power to change anything. That’s often my fear, too. That fear leads to apathy, inaction, and ultimately no progress.

All the more vital, then, to take a deep breath, pluck up some courage and fill out a ballot. If you don’t like the status quo, it’s important to demand change. Elected people need to remember that they work for the public, people like you and me. It’s their job to represent constituents, advocate for those least fortunate and demand fair and inclusive progress.

And if they don’t, they need to be voted out of office. That can only happen if people show up Tuesday.

Visit to see if you’re registered to vote, or for information on how to do it.

Daily Chronicle reporters Megann Horstead and Camden Lazenby put together a handy election voter guide for you. Visit to read more. Or read further in Saturday’s print edition and you’ll find it on page 5.

Remember that we probably won’t know final election results Tuesday. And be kind to volunteer poll workers,.

I hope you decide to go use your voice, and your vote, for good Tuesday. Let’s remember that we still have something to say, and a good way to start is by heading to the polls.

Kelsey Rettke

Kelsey Rettke

Kelsey Rettke is the editor of the Daily Chronicle, part of Shaw Media and DeKalb County's only daily newspaper devoted to local news, crime and courts, government, business, sports and community coverage. Kelsey also covers breaking news for Shaw Media Local News Network.