A new Chicago Sun-Times web tool, powered by eVoter.com, will put all Illinois voters only one click away from finding out the names of candidates on their ballots for the Feb. 2 primary election, from the top of the ticket to the most local contest. To get started, look at the right side of my blog for a widget headlined "2010 Illinois Primary."
This is a web tool that will make it much easier and faster for a person to be part of the civic and political process, which in Illinois is confusing, especially for first-time voters.
All you have to do is type in any address in Illinois--and out will come a listing of your polling location and a sample ballot for the Democratic, Republican and Green parties. You don't have to know more than that to get started. Illinois has the nation's leadoff 2010 primary; early voting starts Monday and absentee balloting is already underway.
The voter registration deadline for the Feb. 2 primary closed Tuesday. You can also get information and links about where to apply for an absentee ballot on the site. The deadline for applying for an absentee ballot by mail is Jan. 28.
Under Illinois law, a voter has to pick one party in order to participate in the nomination process. The system means a person cannot vote in the Democratic primary for a Senate candidate and then switch to the GOP primary for the governor race. Each voter has potentially dozens of candidates in a variety of offices to consider.
While I bet most people know there are big Senate, House and gubernatorial primaries, even ardent activists usually are not on top of who is running in a judicial sub-circuit race.
For the first time, a voter can easily look up their options without hassle.
The sample ballot look-up is a non-partisan service, provided by the Sun-Times in partnership with eVoter.com. The candidate listings on the sample ballot are free and include everyone who is running.
But voters can also click on information placed by candidates. The Sun-Times/eVoter.com partnership provides candidates and organizations with new paid media political communication tools.
The hyperlinks are paid for by candidates or organizations and can lead to candidate websites or endorsement lists and contribution information.
I know from past reporting that there is voter fall-off near the bottom of the ticket; voters sometimes just don't want to vote for candidates and offices they have not focused on--or never knew about.
I talked Tuesday with Adam Kravitz, the CEO of Political Technologies, LLC, owners and operators of eVoter. The Sun-Time/eVoter feature provides "a strong opportunity for down ballot candidates to get noticed. ...the idea is to increase participation in down ballot races," Kravitz said.
With the web, voters have more opportunity to become informed than ever before. But with the myriad of races facing Illinois voters, it hard to know sometimes where to begin. I suggest a starting point is to type in your address on the "2010 Illinois Primary" widget, and look over your sample ballot.