Eye On Illinois: Reader makes case for primary participation

After writing about plans to abstain from voting in the June 28 primary – I strongly encourage everyone to vote whenever given the chance, but I also don’t identify with any political party – Woodstock’s John Sullivan wrote in an attempt to change my mind.

Anyone on the fence about pulling a ballot this month should consider his position:

“I understand your hesitancy to formally identify with either of the major parties but I encourage you to reconsider and vote in the primary for a couple of reasons.

“In McHenry County, general elections are often decided in the primary since the Republican Party tends to dominate local politics. A good example this year is the McHenry County sheriff’s race. Since there is no Democrat candidate, the primary is the de facto election. This is a hotly contested election and to have a voice in the outcome requires voting in the Republican primary. Similar dilemmas face individuals in areas dominated by the Democrat Party.

“In addition, when a majority of voters fail to participate in primaries often the result is more extreme candidates advancing to the general elections. Voters are left with choices that may not reflect their positions on issues and either will not vote in the general election or will vote according to the party that they generally agree with even if the candidate of that party is far more extreme.

“Primaries are an essential part of our current electoral system. More significant voter participation in primaries is the only way to push parties away from extremism and more towards where the majority of Americans stand.”

My county clerk’s website lets me type in a little information and see a sample ballot for Republicans and Democrats, letting me know the local races don’t expressly fit Sullivan’s criteria. There are two candidates for sheriff on each ballot, for example, while our county board district has just one each. There are some races with no Republican, but the Democratic side has only one option.

Yet Sullivan’s point on extreme candidates is well taken. I haven’t decided which attorney general or secretary of state candidates will get my vote in November, but I could probably cross off one or two at this juncture from either party. Abstaining from the primary leaves the decisions to others. Total turnout should be around 2 million, final margins may be quite slim.

There’s still time to see which races may be decided in June, do candidate research and participate. If your community has a nonpartisan referendum you can request a ballot with that issue alone.

Like it or not, this is the process we have, and voting is only powerful when taxpayers exercise the right. Only 17 days remaining!

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at