Who??? Illinois Judges Election 2012: Get the voter guide I wish I had BEFORE voting

Who??? Illinois Judges Election 2012: Get the voter guide I wish I had BEFORE voting

Woke up not-so-bright, but early, this morning to trek in the dark to my designated polling place. I made it just after 6 a.m. and the line wasn’t obnoxiously long. Double-checked to make sure I had my ID. Check.  So far so good.  Everything was on a roll until I got to the back side of my ballot. Ummm…

 A page full of unfamiliar names. I felt totally blindsided and unprepared. The directions state these judges are not running against anyone; we are simply voting on if they should retain their current seats in office. However, that didn’t minimize my feelings of cluelessness one bit. Just because these individuals are currently in office does not mean they should automatically retain their seats. If that were the case, we would not be voting. Unfortunately, many of these judges will “win” by default because voters like myself weren’t properly educated and had to make a blind decision.

 I understand how extremely important the presidential election is today, but it’s unfortunate that the presidential campaigns grossly overshadowed educating the public about elections at the local level. I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever had to stand before a judge for an offense, but let me tell you, it’s not fun. A judge can completely alter your life with the swift bang of a gavel. It is done. It’s important to know how the judges currently in office treat their responsibilities and their track record. If only I had thought of all this before this morning…

 After asking for Spirit to please guide my vote and fumbling through my ballot, I checked my Facebook timeline and was happy to see that a friend of mine posted a picture of her judicial “cheat sheet,” highlighting judges to vote “No” on. My comment of course was, “Wish I had this sooner!” Several comments after mine mirrored the same sentiment. One commenter shared that she used her phone as a cheat sheet  and ended by saying, “Knowledge is power!”  Yes, indeed, it is. It’s a disheartening experience to be in the voting booth – a place of power – and simultaneously feel powerless in the process for lack of knowledge.

 In my hindsight research, I can say that it’s true that you don’t always know what you don’t know. I’ve found that there are several websites with resources about the judicial general elections. The Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC), a committee of the Chicago Bar Association, has evaluated the judges running for retention and judicial candidates seeking election to vacancies on the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois Appellate Court and the Circuit Court of Cook County. According to their site, “The evaluations are designed to inform the public and the courts of the qualifications, independence and integrity of judicial candidates.” The JEC has a printable Pocket Guide that voters can conveniently take to the polls. There is also a mobile version available for smart phones at http://m.chicagobar.org/.

 As with all things, do your own research, but feel free to use this information as a starting point to making an informed decision if you have not already made your vote count.



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  • I've blogged about it. I wrote an OpEd that landed in Huffington Post. My vote for President doesn't count . . . the Electoral College, heard of it? But my vote for whom I am judged by does count. Many of these people on the ballot have received Not Qualified ratings long before the 2012 retention. In my opinion, a judge can affect your life, your livelihood, your freedom more than our President (a figurehead for a political party anyway) and people should be educated.

  • In reply to The Ink Slinger:

    I totally agree that judges have a great deal of power to affect our lives and our vote is not something to be taken lightly. In general, it seems educating the public about the judicial officers took a backseat in the 2012 elections (unless I'm the only one that totally missed all of the information). I'm glad that you wrote about it and had a large platform to do so.

  • The Chicago Tribune made a good case to vote no for these judges: Cynthia Brim | Rodney Hughes Brooks | Christopher Donnelly | Lisa Ruble Murphy | Pamela Hill-Veal | Gloria Chevere


  • In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    Very good information, Jimmy, thank you! I know there's really no good excuse for not being an informed citizen with so much information right at our fingertips, but I feel like voters get so heavily pushed to only think about the presidential election. It's clearly to our detriment.

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