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"ËœThe Election File' voting guide: Do I really have to vote for judges?

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Well no, you don’t have to. But Malcolm Rich with the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice says you should. richwhyvote WBEZ/Tony Arnold Rich’s group has tried to make the process of selecting qualified judges easier by posting a lot of information on its website, including links to a scorecard of evaluations from bar associations. But these groups don’t always agree on which candidate is qualified. Which group should a voter trust? Rich recommends two approaches to this:

  • For people who like to read: A voter can read written statements about each candidate for judge from the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Council of Lawyers. This way, instead of just seeing a scorecard, a voter can read a more detailed explanation of why a candidate was rated the way he or she was rated.
  • The quicker option: Looking “at a composite." Check out the scorecards, check out the newspaper endorsements. “Look at those various sources, and see at what point you have a candidate where there’s a consensus."

Scorecards

  • Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening: includes the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area, the Black Women’s Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the Cook County Bar Association, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Hellenic Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.

Newspaper Endorsements

Party Loyalty The Cook County Democratic Party endorses (“slates”) judicial candidates for the primaries. You can see who the party picked here. For an understanding of the process, check out “Inside the beast: How Cook County judges are elected," written by Abdon Pallasch of the Sun-Times. The Cook County Republican Party issued no endorsements in judicial contests this year. Money There’s been an effort to get the fundraising process out of judicial elections in Illinois, but -- for now, at least -- raising cash is still a big part of this game. To find out who is giving money to the judge candidates, plug their names in here. A Mostly Easy November In Cook County, the winners of the Democratic Party judicial primaries will almost all will win come November. That’s because the Republicans have candidates in only one judge race in the county. The Greens haven’t put up anyone for these races. On that general election ballot they’ll be joined by judges seeking another term. These incumbents won’t be running against anyone. Voters will just be asked if they want to keep the judge on the bench, and the judge needs 60-percent of the vote to keep the job. If he or she gets booted (which is rare), the state Supreme Court can fill the vacancy until the next election. Other Voting Guides Check out our write-ups of other overshadowed races in tomorrow’s election: Illinois treasurer, comptroller, lieutenant governor and DuPage County board chair. And for much more coverage, head over to The Election File.

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