Monday, October 26, 2009

Frequently asked questions

Before taking a look at who filed in the subcircuits, this might be an opportune moment to answer some questions that laypeople (a/k/a "voters") might be asking while looking at the posts today.

First, you'll have noticed that some candidates have filed for more than one countywide vacancy; one candidate, Kevin J. Murphy, has filed for each of the seven posted vacancies.

Is this legal?

Yes -- although all these multiple filers will have to choose -- soon -- which race to make and which to leave. A person can ultimately run for only one judicial office at a time.

Why do people do this?

A candidate may negotiate with other candidates about non-aggression pacts or alliances -- sort of like a political version of "Survivor." A person may feel that he or she has an advantage in this race, or that one, because (for example) she is the only woman or he or she is the only one in the race with significant criminal law experience. Some candidates may be amenable to dropping out of one race or all of them because of promises of future support.

Of course, in the law, promises of future performance are notoriously unenforceable.

And then there is the question of objections.

What are objections?

A candidate for judge (for any political office, really) must submit petitions in order to get on the ballot. That's what all of these candidates filed today. The form of these petitions, and how the petitions are numbered, witnesses and bound are all subject to very specific statutory provisions. Failure to submit petitions in the required form can be fatal... if someone objects. Also, the petitions must have the requisite number of signatures in order to qualify. For Democratic judicial hopefuls from Cook County, the required number this year was 3,268. That means a candidate must have at least 3,268 "good" signatures. A "good" signature comes from a registered voter -- whose signature can be compared with and verified by reference to the signature on that voter's registration -- and that's just the beginning of the possible scrutiny. As you read this, some candidates (or their supporters) are poring over their opponents' petitions, making sure that each and every rule has been followed. A Cook County Democratic judicial candidate who filed petitions today only 3,500 signatures is likely to draw an objection; someone who has filed 10,000 signatures might not.

A candidate who draws an objection in this race... but who does not draw an objection in that race may find it easy to decide which race to abandon. Petition challenges can get very expensive.

If you have a question about the process, feel free to leave a comment. I do not promise, however, to know the answer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

new county wide opening today --fyi