Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Should Cook County retention judges be nervous about "no" votes?

Although the judges up for retention this year, and their friends and families, are surely paying close attention, there are not a lot of experts who can give advice or counsel about their situation.

I am aware of one: Albert J. Klumpp, PhD, a research analyst with McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Dr. Klumpp responded to a number of posts here during the primary season, and, more recently, when I brought up the topic of retention judges (in this post) Klumpp commented:
The judges have nothing to worry about. In fact, because of the almost certain high Chicago turnout of Obama supporters, I believe that approval rates may well break the all-time Cook County record of 80.5% (median, 1972). Casual voters, and minorities, are relatively more likely to cast all-yes votes on retention slates. In addition, the elimination of straight-party voting and the shift away from punch cards have also given indirect boosts to approval rates. I would be VERY surprised if any judge is seriously threatened in this election.
These are points that Dr. Klumpp made in an October 2006 Illinois Bar Journal article, "Voter Information and Judicial Retention Elections in Illinois," 94 Ill.B.J. 538 (membership required). A footnote to that article informs us that Dr. Klumpp wrote "the first doctoral dissertation ever... on judicial retention elections."

But I just can't be as confident. Consider this post on the very popular Second City Cop blog. There, the anonymous SCC says:
We have a fun tradition when voting for judges in Cook County. We run down the list of judges and vote "no" for each and every one of them. * * * Every "no" vote means the judge has to garner something along the lines of 3 additional "yes" votes, so if every SCC reader voted "no," we might be able to effect some tiny change by throwing sand in the gears of the Machine.
As of this evening, according to Sitemeter, SCC averages 8,576 readers per day. It may well be that SCC is a long-standing member of that group of 10-15% of voters who vote "no" on every retention judge at every election. Certainly some of the people who left comments on that SCC post are regular "no" voters.

Still, persons wishing to support the retention bids of qualified judges should remember to express that support at the polls.

No comments: