Monday, February 29, 2016

Welcome early voters!

"Regular" early voting starts today and continues pretty near constantly until the polls open on Primary Election Day itself. If you're not certain about hours or locations of early voting sites, consult your nearest telephone: It'll ring, any second now, with yet another robocall. Alternatively, if you live in the City of Chicago, consult this page of the Chicago Board of Elections website. If you live in one of those places that the first Mayor Daley charmingly, if condescendingly, referred to as the 'county towns,' i.e., a Cook County suburb, click on this page of Cook County Clerk David Orr's website (the Clerk's office also has an explanation of early voting procedure, and rules and regulations, here).

Hopefully, if the search engine spirits have been kind to you, you've arrived in this little corner of the Blogosphere specifically because you are interested in making intelligent decisions about Cook County judicial candidates. My Organizing the Data posts are not done yet; they are apparently becoming a relic of those carefree, bygone days when people actually had to wait until Election Day to vote. Isn't that the bee's knees? 23 skidoo.

I'll have the Organizing the Data posts done as soon as I can -- but, since you may be impatient, and ready to exercise your franchise immediately, I can offer these resources:

If you're planning to take a Republican ballot, unless you live in the far northern or northwestern reaches of the County Cook, you have no worries about making intelligent judicial choices. You have no choices to make at all. You have no candidates. No Republican filed in any countywide judicial race, neither the two Appellate Court races, nor the 11 countywide Circuit Court races. If you live in any judicial subcircuit (it's one of the many numbers on your voter registration card) except the 12th or 13th, there are no Republicans running there either (there are no vacancies at all in Subcircuits 3, 8, and 15; voters there have a say in countywide races only, and only in the Democratic primary). If you live in the 12th or 13th Subcircuit, and plan on taking a Republican ballot, skip ahead two paragraphs.

For Democratic primary voters, the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, and the Illinois State Bar Association have all provided explanations of the ratings these respective associations have given to each candidate (those are links to FWIW posts, but the CBA and CCL source materials can be accessed from those those respective posts). Several races are uncontested, including both Appellate Court vacancies.

If you live in Subcircuit 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 or 7, the Chicago Bar Association, Chicago Council of Lawyers, and Illinois State Bar Association explanations of these groups' ratings of candidates seeking these vacancies can be found by clicking on the links embedded in this sentence.

Voters living in Subcircuit 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14 can likewise access explanations offered by the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, and the Illinois State Bar Association regarding candidates seeking these vacancies by clicking the links embedded in this sentence. These links identify the Republicans running in the 12th and 13th Subcircuits, as well as the Democrats which is why, Republican voters, I told you to skip ahead here.

New or infrequent judicial voters are often surprised to learn that there are 12 bar associations that screen and evaluate the credentials of candidates seeking judicial office. We've only covered three so far. The other nine, all members (along with the Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Illinois State Bar Association) of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening, publish 'grids' explaining their respective ratings for each and every judicial candidate. You can access the countywide Alliance grids here, the Alliance grids for candidates in Subcircuits 1-7 here, and the Alliance grids for candidates in Subcircuits 9-14 here.

Bar ratings or evaluations are not endorsements. This is why, as you will notice, the bar associations may have favorable or unfavorable ratings about every candidate in a race. And you will also notice that, sometimes, bar associations may disagree over whether a particular candidate is or is not qualified or recommended.

If, after reviewing the explanations and the grids, you're still not certain how to choose between two candidates who seem equally qualified to you, feel free to consult the blog Sidebar: The candidates with websites (at least those I've been able to find or who have told me about their websites) are all listed there in alphabetical order. You may have a better feel about who is worthy of your vote after such a visit. The candidates hope so, anyway; that's why they spend the money for websites.

I'll pull all this information together, along with the various endorsements that each candidate garners (each endorsement that I can independently verify, that is) in the Organizing the Data posts. But, for now, if you feel you must vote today, I hope you may find this information helpful.

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