Chief Justice Lays Out Plan to Raise Voters' Awareness About Judicial Elections
By Jenna Gant - August 21, 2015
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor laid out her plan to make judicial votes count by raising voters' awareness about judicial candidates to members of the Columbus Metropolitan Club on Aug. 19.
Part of that plan includes a new website, JudicialVotesCount.org, where Ohio voters can learn more about judges in their areas so they can make informed decisions on election day. Chief Justice O'Connor said too many voters believe judges are influenced by politics and money. She also said a quarter of constituents don't participate in judicial races because of voter fatigue and not knowing enough about the judges.
"It's very difficult to find information about the individual candidates for the judiciary, but if you do the math, half of the eligible voters don't come to the polls plus the rate of judicial drop off can be anywhere from 25 to 40 percent, so judges actually are selected by such a minute percentage of the electorate as we have the system right now. We need to do better than that. It's unacceptable," Chief Justice O'Connor said.
To improve the way Ohioans select judges and enhance confidence in the judiciary, Chief Justice O'Connor said she developed a three-point plan.
"If we move the judicial selection process to the top of the ballot, we move judicial races to the odd years and call them the judicial years, and we encourage voter participation through education, we'll have, eventually, an increase in the number of voters who are informed voters about the judiciary," Chief Justice O'Connor said.
Voters are encouraged to visit JudicialVotesCount.org on Sept. 1 to find out more about municipal court candidates on this November's ballot.
The chief's reform plan is in partnership with the Ohio State Bar Association, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio Newspaper Association, and the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, and the Ohio Association of Broadcasters.