Although it’s important to vote, it’s equally as important to know for whom you’re voting.
Many people vote by party—they pick up a ballot and choose every candidate who aligns with whichever “side” the voter is on.
It can be an understandable approach most of the time if voters don’t know candidates’ stances on every issue.
However, choosing a candidate just because it says “Republican” or “Democrat” next to his or her name can be a dangerous way of voting.
In the Nov. 6 midterm election, Art Jones, the Republican candidate for U.S. representative of Illinois’ Third Congressional District, received about 27 percent of the vote. About 56,000 people voted for him.
He lost to incumbent U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, but their race drew attention around the country because Jones is a former neo-Nazi whose has said accounts of the Holocaust have been exaggerated. His extreme views included calling for “neighborhood amendment” that would allow residents to limit the amount of certain minorities who can live in their community.
Over 3,800 people in the 19th Ward voted for Jones. He earned at least 30 percent of the vote in 16 of 41 precincts.
After the election, reports came out in which local officials suggested that people didn’t know they were voting for someone with extreme views.
Jones was unchallenged in the March primary, and he was covered multiple times by national and local media, including this newspaper.
There was no reason for any voter to plead ignorance on his stance on the issues.
In the age of “fake news” and criticism of the media, people reading a newspaper or watching a news program would have known about the candidate.
It is difficult to sympathize with anyone who voted for him. If voters opposed Lipinski, it would have been the rare situation where not voting for either candidate would have been acceptable.
The Illinois Republican Party denounced Jones long before November, but it would have been better if a legitimate Republican candidate had challenged Jones in the primary.
Lipinski faced off against Marie Newman during the primary in a competitive race that brought a large, spirited audience to a forum at Moraine Valley Community College in February.
Jones also attended that forum as a spectator and promoted his stances outside. It was yet another time voters could have learned of his extreme views.