WBEZ | voting http://www.wbez.org/tags/voting Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en State ballot initiatives: from animal trafficking to marijuana legalization http://www.wbez.org/news/state-ballot-initiatives-animal-trafficking-marijuana-legalization-113636 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1103_ohio-voting-624x410.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_95443"><img alt="A voter casts his ballot at Orange High School in Moreland Hills, Ohio on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. (Tony Dejak/AP)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1103_ohio-voting-624x410.jpg" style="height: 407px; width: 620px;" title="A voter casts his ballot at Orange High School in Moreland Hills, Ohio on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. (Tony Dejak/AP)" /><p>On this off-year election, voters in a number of states will decide on ballot initiatives.</p></div><p>In&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thepostathens.com/news/ohio-s-marijuana-legalization-ballot-issue-could-cause-legal-clash/article_10c4dcc4-80db-11e5-8645-33bff0634486.html" target="_blank">Ohio</a>, the legalization of marijuana is at stake. In&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/02/us/washington-state-weighs-far-reaching-law-on-animal-trafficking.html" target="_blank">Washington State</a>, the trafficking of animal products from endangered species, and in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/mississippi-voters-decide-schools-funded/" target="_blank">Mississippi</a>, how public schools are funded.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/underhillwendy" target="_blank">Wendy Underhill</a>, program manager for elections at the <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/" target="_blank">National Conference of State Legislatures</a>, joins&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now&#39;s</em> Robin Young to take a look at state ballot initiatives.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/03/state-ballot-initiatives" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Wed, 04 Nov 2015 12:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-ballot-initiatives-animal-trafficking-marijuana-legalization-113636 Denver ballot question poses sales tax to fund college tuition http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-04/denver-ballot-question-poses-sales-tax-fund-college-tuition-113637 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1102_colorado-tax-624x468.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_95329"><img alt="Denver Mayor Michael Hancock speaks in support of a ballot measure that would create a city scholarship fund, during a rally at Sunken Gardens Park on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (Vic Vela/CPR)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1102_colorado-tax-624x468.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Denver Mayor Michael Hancock speaks in support of a ballot measure that would create a city scholarship fund, during a rally at Sunken Gardens Park on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (Vic Vela/CPR)" /><p>Denver could become one of the first cities in the country to help students pay for any public college in Colorado.</p></div><p>Tomorrow, voters will decide on a tax that would fund scholarships for low-to-middle-income students. Supporters say it&rsquo;s critical for economic development in a city where less than half of high school graduates finish college.</p><p>Critics say city government should focus on fixing sidewalks and fighting crime.</p><p>From the&nbsp;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/">Here &amp; Now</a>&nbsp;Contributors Network,&nbsp;Jenny Brundin&nbsp;with Colorado Public Radio reports.</p><p><em>CPR:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cpr.org/news/story/why-denver-voters-are-being-asked-help-fund-college-scholarships" target="_blank">Why Denver Voters Are Being Asked To Help Fund College Scholarships</a></em></p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/02/denver-sales-tax-college" target="_blank"> via Here &amp; Now</a></em></p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 13:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-04/denver-ballot-question-poses-sales-tax-fund-college-tuition-113637 Inaccurate voter data could hurt Asian voter blocs, other ethnic groups http://www.wbez.org/news/inaccurate-voter-data-could-hurt-asian-voter-blocs-other-ethnic-groups-111605 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ward.PNG" style="height: 274px; width: 620px;" title="File: A map on the wall of a Chicago campaign office. Many campaigns use the same source to find likely voters, but the advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice worries inaccurate data diminishes minority voter blocs' appeal. (WBEZ/Derek John)" />The staff at Asian Americans Advancing Justice has been busy registering new voters and planning their exit poll strategy for Tuesday. The organization wants to increase visibility for the Asian community.</p><p>But Kathleen Yang-Clayton with the organization says that&rsquo;s difficult when even the staff is misidentified.</p><p>&ldquo;He identifies as Japanese-American, multi-racial and he was listed as African American,&rdquo; Yang-Clayton said of one of her co-workers.</p><p>Many campaigns and advocacy groups like Advancing Justice use a database to target voters. Yang-Clayton took a little sample in her office, researching all of her co-workers, most of them Asian. Exactly half of the 14 were incorrectly identified.</p><p>&ldquo;Brian Hara who also identifies as Japanese-American was listed as Caucasian, Irish,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago has more than 1.4 million registered voters. The database shows just over 35,000 Asians are among the voting population.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s already what we empirically have experienced as being under counts,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>When you register to vote, you give your name and address. You check a box saying you&rsquo;re a citizen and if you&rsquo;re of legal age. But campaigns know more about you than that -- like your race, age, past voting behavior.</p><p>&ldquo;I can also see household income and the car that you drive and some cases, your magazine subscription. And I can use this information to find out what you might be interested in,&rdquo; said Michael Miller, an assistant professor in political science at Barnard College.</p><p>Miller has worked on a number of campaigns as a strategist. The refined information he&rsquo;s talking about is called micro-targeting. He says any campaign that wants to be successful needs this.</p><p>&ldquo;You can cut turf so that you can have walkers just dropping literature for the people who you know are going to vote for you,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe a reminder to go out to vote. Others are going to be trying to have conversations with folks the campaign thinks are persuadable.&rdquo;</p><p>Miller says the main database website Democratic campaigns use is maintained by a Washington, D.C.-based organization called NGP VAN. It&rsquo;s the same one Yang-Clayton uses.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Testing out the voter database &mdash; one hit, one miss</span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/san%20for%20cms.PNG" style="height: 346px; width: 620px;" title="A view of the voter information stored in a database commonly used by local campaigns. (Courtesy of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago)" /></div><p>Just to test it out, we entered my name into the database. The information showed my race as Asian and ethnicity as Korean. That&rsquo;s correct. But then we entered in the name of my colleague Odette Yousef. The database said her race is Hispanic and her ethnicity is Mexican. Odette is actually of Middle Eastern descent.</p><p>These data errors might seem a little funny, but Yang-Clayton says the difference in numbers could dictate the way campaigns do outreach and the language they do it in.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve seen in the data we use from VAN is that when there&rsquo;s a systematic undercounting, the impression that&rsquo;s given is that Asian Americans don&rsquo;t vote. So why make the effort,&rdquo; she asked.</p><p><span style="font-size: 24px;">Voter database only meant as &#39;starting point&#39;</span></p><p>Bryan Whitaker with NGP VAN, the company that maintains the database website, says the voter lists are generally good, but admits there are flaws across the board, not just for Asians.</p><p>Whitaker says he lives in a predominantly African-American community in Washington, D.C.</p><p>Whitaker, a white man, says campaigns try to appeal to him as if he is African-American. He says he&rsquo;s likely misidentified as being black because of his neighborhood.</p><p>He says the data is collected and analyzed by a separate group. They collect information from boards of election, marketing research and the U.S. Census. However, census data is based on the census tract and not at an individual level.</p><p>Whitaker says the lists are meant to be used as a starting point for campaigns.</p><p>&ldquo;A successful campaign will have a volunteer in those neighborhoods who is checking the lists before they actually go out and start knocking on those doors. That&rsquo;s the quality assurance check on those lists,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Yang-Clayton says the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice is able to make corrections to their own list, but that won&rsquo;t show up system-wide. And she questions whether campaigns actually take the extra steps.</p><p>Asians make up about 5.5 percent of the city&rsquo;s population. Yang-Clayton feels data inaccuracies hurt smaller groups like this.</p><p>&ldquo;Every point that&rsquo;s shaved off because they&#39;re misidentified or you don&rsquo;t click the right radio button to add people in has a significant impact,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>She says improvements could be made with finer data or even if the state has voters self-identify themselves.</p><p>Yang-Clayton says better data could show that Asians have a bigger influence on election day.</p><p><em><a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon">Susie An</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/inaccurate-voter-data-could-hurt-asian-voter-blocs-other-ethnic-groups-111605 Early voting starts in Chicago's mayoral race http://www.wbez.org/news/early-voting-starts-chicagos-mayoral-race-111522 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/3002776434_643d076694_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Early voting is set to begin for Chicago&#39;s municipal election, including the mayor&#39;s race.</p><div><p>Early voting starts Monday at 51 locations in Chicago. The <a href="http://www.chicagoelections.com/en/early-voting.html" target="_blank">Chicago Board of Election Commissioners</a> says each site also will offer voter registration. The election is Feb. 24.</p><p>Sites will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Five sites will be open on Sunday, Feb. 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.</p><p>Voters need a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. Voters can use any site in the city regardless of their address.</p><p>Election board officials say voters who need to change their name or address or those registering to vote for the first time need to have two forms of ID. At least one must have the voter&#39;s current address.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 12:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/early-voting-starts-chicagos-mayoral-race-111522 Midterm 2014 Illinois election results http://www.wbez.org/news/midterm-2014-illinois-election-results-111012 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/vote_0.PNG" alt="" /><p><p><a href="#governor">Governor</a> | <a href="#senate">Senate</a> | <a href="#house">House</a> | <a href="#statewide">Statewide</a> | <a href="#general-assembly">General Assembly</a> | <a href="#local">Local</a></p><div id="gov"><a name="governor"></a><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Governor</span></p></div><div id="senate"><a name="senate"></a><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Senate</span></p></div><br /><div id="house"><a name="house"></a><p><span style="font-size:22px;">House</span></p></div><br /><div id="statewide"><a name="statewide"></a><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Statewide elections</span></p></div><br /><div id="stateleg"><a name="general-assembly"></a><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Illinois General Assembly</span></p></div><br /><div id="local"><a name="local"></a><p><span id="cke_bm_239S" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size:22px;">Illinois local elections</span><span id="cke_bm_239E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></p></div><script type="text/javascript" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/scripts/pym.js"></script><script> var pymGov = new pym.Parent('gov', 'http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2014/general/by_state/gov/IL.html?SITE=WBEZFMELN&SECTION=POLITICS', {}); var pymSenate = new pym.Parent('senate', 'http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2014/general/by_state/us_senate/IL.html?SITE=WBEZFMELN&SECTION=POLITICS', {}); var pymHouse = new pym.Parent('house', 'http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2014/general/by_state/us_house/IL.html?SITE=WBEZFMELN&SECTION=POLITICS', {}); var pymStatewide = new pym.Parent('statewide', 'http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2014/general/by_state/statewide/IL.html?SITE=WBEZFMELN&SECTION=POLITICS', {}); var pymStateleg = new pym.Parent('stateleg', 'http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2014/general/by_state/state_sen_house/IL.html?SITE=WBEZFMELN&SECTION=POLITICS', {}); var pymLocal = new pym.Parent('local', 'http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2014/general/by_state/local/IL.html?SITE=WBEZFMELN&SECTION=POLITICS', {}); </script></p> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/midterm-2014-illinois-election-results-111012 Morning Shift: New scholarship opens path for undocumented students http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-29/morning-shift-new-scholarship-opens-path-undocumented <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/CollegeDegrees360.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get a re-cap of the Bears vs. Packers game with sports duo Kaufmann and Coffman. And, we talk about the Pritzker Access Scholarship that&#39;s recognizing undocumented students. Plus, the jazz and folk sound of Chicago&#39;s Funeral Bonsai Wedding.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-undocumented-student-s-get-an-opport/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-undocumented-student-s-get-an-opport.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-undocumented-student-s-get-an-opport" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: New scholarship opens path for undocumented students" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-29/morning-shift-new-scholarship-opens-path-undocumented The purpose of the ballot http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/purpose-ballot-104137 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mel%20reynolds%20AP.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Mel Reynolds is running for Congress under the them of 'Redemption.' (AP/M. Spencer Green)" /></div><p>With the resignation of Jesse Jackson Jr. from his seat in the 2nd Congressional District, a growing number of potential candidates are lining up to take his place. It seems that each day the field gets a little larger. And unquestionably, one of the most surprising candidates to throw his hat in the ring is the person Rep. Jackson originally defeated to win the seat in 1995: Mel Reynolds.</p><p>In 1992 the young, photogenic Reynolds defeated the then controversial Gus Savage, who had for 12 years run the district as a personal fiefdom. Two years after Reynolds won the seat he was convicted of a series of sexual crimes with a minor; he was also convicted on federal financial and campaign fraud charges.</p><p>Now Reynolds wants back in. He says he wants another chance to do the job right. His campaign slogan is straight forward and right on point: Redemption. Reynolds argues that he&rsquo;s done the crime, he&rsquo;s done his time, and now it&rsquo;s time to move on. He maintains that he has the education, talent and experience to do the job. And, he&rsquo;s hoping that the constituents of the district will recognize that his past crimes shouldn&rsquo;t be a &ldquo;life sentence&rdquo; and vote for him.</p><p>I think Reynolds&rsquo; arrogance in this matter is stunning! Sexual misconduct with a minor, the solicitation of child pornography, campaign fraud &mdash; and he wants his job back! I guess what Reynolds is really hoping for is a case of &ldquo;total collective amnesia&rdquo; on the part of the voters of the&nbsp;2nd&nbsp;District. I applaud Mr. Reynolds attempt at &ldquo;redemption,&rdquo; but perhaps that process should be pursued in a more private manner and not in a public venue.</p><p>Legally, of course, Mr. Reynolds has the right to seek re-election. Here&rsquo;s where the &ldquo;beauty&rdquo; of our American political system comes into play. He has a right to run, and citizens of his district have a right to vote. So, if his constituents decide that his previous behavior and character are not acceptable to them &mdash; they simply don&rsquo;t have to vote for him. If they don&rsquo;t believe in his plea for redemption, he need not be publically ridiculed or reviled; he should simply not receive a person&rsquo;s vote. In voting against any one particular candidate, citizens are demonstrating yet another sacred tenant of our political system: &ldquo;Every person has a right to their say, but not every person is right.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/purpose-ballot-104137 Why you should vote http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/list-nonpartisan-reasons-vote-103682 <p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.48699602781058715"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3002776434_643d076694.jpg" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px; " title="This could be yours! (Flickr/Vox Efx)" />You can legitimately complain if the other guy wins.</span><br /><br />Because you want to wait in line in a weird building near you and encounter some slow-moving people as you catch up on your reading.<br /><br />You can brag about it on Facebook/Twitter.<br /><br />People are less likely to think you&rsquo;re a lazy, uninvolved jerk.<br /><br />You&#39;ll be one less vote that keeps the election dragging late thereby making everyone stay up past their bedtimes and be cranky tomorrow.<br /><br />You might get a sticker.</p></p> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 10:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/list-nonpartisan-reasons-vote-103682 Poll: Before heading into the booth, voters research President and Mayor, but not Ward Committeeman http://www.wbez.org/news/poll-heading-booth-voters-research-president-and-mayor-not-ward-committeeman-103658 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F66227515&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;color=ffe12b" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>A couple of weeks ago,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-dont-voters-research-judges-103350"> WBEZ polled its audience</a> to figure out whether they&#39;re blindly heading into the voting booth without a care in the world, or whether they actually pay attention to who is running for particular offices in federal, state and local elections. Below are the results of this self-reported data from over 1,000 WBEZ readers (many of whom are also members).</p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AoAq-yszkAfjdEhWV2Npb2tWZEF3TldKUGVZQmJyTEE&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AE35&gid=2&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"title":"","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":"pretty","viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":"pretty","viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"title":"Which of these elected offices do you research before voting?","booleanRole":"certainty","legendTextStyle":{"color":"#222","fontSize":"10"},"animation":{"duration":500},"legend":"right","hAxis":{"title":"Elected office title","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"textStyle":{"color":"#222","fontSize":"7"},"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"tooltip":{},"isStacked":false,"width":602,"height":280},"state":{},"view":{},"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 2"} </script><p>Unsurprisingly, President and Vice President come out on top as an office that respondants felt the most informed about. But the numbers dropped sharply for positions like Metropolitan Reclamation Board Commissioner (on Tuesday&#39;s ballot in Cook County) and Ward Committeeman. You can click on the columns above to see exactly what percent of people out of the 1,345 voters say they research specific offices.</p><p>In my last post, I remarked that many people don&#39;t do much research for less-well known offices, like judges. This might be anecdotal, but if this year is any indication, that may be changing: Dan Sinker created <a href="http://www.mobilejudges.com/">mobilejudges.com</a>, which voters can use when they&#39;re in the voting booth, on their smart phones. There have also been a number of other pieces published by varying media outlets to inform voters before it&#39;s too late, like<a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/politics/2012/11/judicial_retention_and_bar_association_ratings.html"> this piece from Craig Newman at the<em> Sun-Time</em>s</a>, or the flyer I got in the mail urging me to retain certain judges, seen below.</p><p>Despite growing amounts of information, it&#39;s hard to tell if this will make much of a difference: On Monday&#39;s&nbsp;<em>Morning Shift</em>, WBEZ listeners learned that the last time a judge was <em>not </em>retained in Cook County was in 1990; in fact, &quot;Virtually all judges are retained with every election,&quot; said Malcolm Rich of the Chicago Council of Lawyers and Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/judges flyer.JPG" style="float: right; height: 402px; width: 300px; " title="A flyer sent out by the Cook County Democratic Party." />What are the top reasons judges aren&#39;t retained? They&#39;re late to the bench, rude, unaccomodating, and &quot;some of the judges simply don&#39;t have knowledge of the law,&quot; Rich said.</p><p>It&#39;s also difficult to tell how much stock we should put into looking at these rankings. Just seeing a YES/NO ranking according to the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County fails to indicate to us exactly why, according to a bunch of anonymous attorneys, these judges should not get a chance to judge another day. To get a better picture, you can read full written evaluations of each judge according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://voteforjudges.org/State_Judicial_Evaluations_for_November_2012_final.pdf">Chicago Council of Lawyers Evaluation Report</a>. As Rich explains, many judges are not suggested for retention because they&#39;re criticized for being&nbsp;&quot;inflexible&quot;, &quot;hostile&quot; or &quot;imperious.&quot;</p><p>So once we get people researching, what&#39;s the next step? Looking closer at these judicial evalutions, deciding if we can trust them, and figuring out what we can do to make the process even better.</p></p> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 11:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/poll-heading-booth-voters-research-president-and-mayor-not-ward-committeeman-103658 Why don't voters research judges? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-dont-voters-research-judges-103350 <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ballot%20edit.jpg" style="height: 548px; width: 620px; " title="Judges on the Chicago ballot in the 2010 general election (Flickr/Shawn Calvert)" /></p><table align="left" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="margin-bottom: 15px; width: 310px; "><tbody><tr><td><script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://static.polldaddy.com/p/6634617.js"></script><noscript><a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/6634617/">Which of these elected offices do you research before voting?</a></noscript></td></tr></tbody></table><p>The first time I snuck into the voting booth with my Mom as a kid, the thing I noticed right away was how <em>long </em>we were in there. It seemed to take forever for her to pull all those levers (this was in New York, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/nyregion/04machines.html">which had old school voting for a long time</a>). I remember thinking that it really shouldn&rsquo;t be such a drawn out process; after all, weren&rsquo;t we just there to vote for the new Mayor?<br /><br />It wasn&rsquo;t until (what I now view as) embarrassingly late in my education that I realized there was a lot more on that ballot than just the Mayor or the President. In the 2012&nbsp;<a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/ElectionInformation/OfficesUpForElection.aspx?ID=33">Illinois general election</a>, you&rsquo;ve got big ticket offices like President, Congress, State Representative and State Senator. For those races, you&rsquo;ve probably at least heard the name of one person running for office.<br /><br />But what about the down ballot offices, like Regional Superintendent of Schools, Water Reclamation Board, and my personal favorite, Trustee to the Levee and Sanitation District?</p><p><em><strong>A spotlight on judges</strong></em></p><p>The elected spots that most often slip through the cracks are the judges--what can feel like, looking at the ballot, to be hundreds and hundreds of judges.&nbsp;Filling vacancies, retaining judges, all of that has to happen for state supreme court, for appellate court and subcircuit court. Which means that you&rsquo;re not necessarily pitting one person against another; you&rsquo;re voting to see if someone should still be a judge. A <a href="http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=200052">Medill article from earlier this year noted that</a> on a Democratic ballot from 2008 in Cook County, just over 70 percent of voters voted to fill a vacancy in a circuit court judgeship race.</p><p>None of this is news to anyone who has voted. What might be surprising is the prevalence of people, educated and not, who vote without paying attention to these judges--despite how relatively simple it is to figure out who should be reelected.&nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>How to get more information</strong></em><br /><br />The nonpartisan website <a href="http://voteforjudges.org/">VoteforJudges.org</a> is a favorite site of mine, one that I discovered in college when I realized I&rsquo;d have to vote for a lot of positions I hadn&#39;t been forced to pay attention to by newsmedia. Vote for Judges provides links to reports on judges from the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County, Chicago Bar Association, Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening. The former has fully written evaluations of judges, while the latter organizations rank people along the lines of Qualified and Not-Qualified, Recommended or Not Recommended. The Alliance shows recommendations from organizations like the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago&nbsp;Area (AABA), Black Women&rsquo;s Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago (BWLA) and&nbsp;Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC), among others.</p><p>Judges are in a position to have a huge impact on the laws that our other elected officials spend a great deal of time pontificating about, but they remain generally nameless to the public at large, except those that end up presiding over high-profile cases. Names that become popular are usually associated with trials like that of former Governor Rod Blagojevich&#39;s (Judge Zagel), or Judge Locallo, the subject of the book <a href="http://books.google.com/books/about/Courtroom_302.html?id=nZJPBxjI270C"><em>Courtroom 302</em></a>.</p><p>But because most people aren&#39;t being inundated with the details of these &quot;races&quot; to retain or fill a judgeship, many don&#39;t know what to do when they get in the voting booth. They also can&#39;t use voting along party lines as a fallback because the judges you see on your ballot all align with your particular party.&nbsp;</p><p>So what do people do when they don&rsquo;t know anything about their judges? Well, in the words of one friend who shared Vote for Judges on Facebook, they stare &ldquo;blankly at the page on Nov 6th.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The bottom line is there is a no one-stop shopping when it comes to finding this information. You have to dig for it,&rdquo; Travis Akin director of the watchdog group Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch told Illinois Watchdog for their piece <a href="http://watchdog.org/59562/il-judicial-elections-require-voters-to-research-and-follow-the-money/">&ldquo;Judicial elections require voters to research and follow the money.&rdquo; </a>&nbsp;&ldquo;And while we challenge people to do their homework, we&rsquo;re very much aware that not a whole lot of people are going to do that before they go to the polls.&rdquo;<br /><br />From mere crowdsourcing I&#39;ve done, a major way the people who vote at all for judges end up voting based simply off of names, via an implied race or sex. If you think more women and minorities should be elected, voting for people with names that appear female or Hispanic is a way to get that to happen (or, if you don&#39;t, to make it stop happening). To elaborate on how this doesn&#39;t help protect the interests of voters would be a big waste of words, so let&#39;s just leave that as a voting tactic that should probably be avoided.</p><p><em><strong>Tell us: do you do research?</strong></em></p><p>Voting for judges proves that in today&#39;s voting economy, though much coverage during elections surrounds whether people vote at all (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/early-voting-begins-monday-illinois-103290">especially in Chicago</a>), what the media often pays less attention to is what voters are doing when they get in there--besides, of course, votes that occur down party lines for big tickets.</p><p>So we&#39;d like you to tell us: for what races do you do research? Fill out the poll in this post, which includes most everyone you&#39;ll see at one point or another on the ballot in Chicago, per <a href="http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/deo/Documents/CookCountyDirectoryofElectedOfficials2011.pdf">this list by the Cook County Clerk</a>. And for the coming election, you can also look up exactly who (and what &ldquo;Public Questions&rdquo;) will be on your ballot at the <a href="http://www.chicagoelections.com/">Chicago Elections</a> website.</p></p> Wed, 24 Oct 2012 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-dont-voters-research-judges-103350