I present a guest post this morning from Susana Darwin, Co-Chair of the Judicial Evaluation Committee of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago and an Executive Committee Member of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening.
If you are excited about the top-of-the-ballot races in the November election, please don’t forget to cast informed votes in down-ballot races, like those for the judiciary.
IN THE ALTERNATIVE …
If you can’t bring yourself to vote one way or another in the top-of-the-ballot races, you can take comfort in the difference your vote can make in down-ballot races.
In either case, please see http://tinyurl.com/judgesgen2016-1 for recommendations for Cook County judicial races from the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening.
A candidate for retention must win 60%+1 votes to remain in office, so the question for 2016 is: how does a voter cast a principled vote on judicial candidates?
In 2016, no sitting Cook County judge or appellate court justice earned universal or even majority “NO” retention recommendations from the eleven groups that comprise the Alliance.
In fact, five bar groups – the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois – recommend YES votes for ALL retention candidates.
Given the ratings of those five bar groups, a voter could credibly vote YES on all retention candidates.
By contrast, research shows that over the years, 20% of voters cast NO votes on ALL candidates. Every judicial candidate before voters in November has been on the bench for at least six years, some for many more years than that. Many have earned the respect of their colleagues and the lawyers and litigants who appear before them, and the experience they have developed while serving the public should not be lightly discounted.
Alternatives to voting ALL YES or ALL NO include:
—voting in alignment with the particular bar group or groups you know and trust
—voting NO on any candidate who has more than one NO rating from any bar group (Lynch)
—voting NO on any candidate who has any NO rating from any bar group (Solganick, Maki, Ford, Lynch, Dunford, Bernstein, Malone, Coleman, Ramos)
In the last two scenarios, whether to cast YES votes for other candidates depends on the voter’s wish to affect the total number of votes a candidate gets, and therefore, how close to the required 60%+1 to remain in office. Not casting a YES vote for a particular candidate shrinks the total number of votes that candidate tallies and empowers all-NO voters’ votes.
Cast an informed vote!
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