The clock is ticking, and mid-term elections are now only a few days away. When citizens go to the polls, they are responsible for making informed decisions regarding a wide array of candidates for various offices. Most people have heard plenty by now regarding the federal and state candidates in their districts, but all too many voters neglect to research the backgrounds of the county, city and school district candidates before they arrive at the voting booth.
And what category of candidates probably is allotted the least amount of research time? That would be the candidates for judicial offices, including judges for the state’s Supreme Court, Court of Appeal judges, and District Court judges.
Judges have power. Accordingly, it is vital that citizens do due diligence in researching the background of the candidates for judicial offices and make wise choices, rather than just omitting voting on this block of candidates or voting by random choice.
Note, too, that the candidates for federal and state offices have party designations appearing by their names on ballots, while candidates for county, city, school district and judicial offices are only identified by name. If you are unfamiliar with the names, you have nothing to go on when casting your vote(s) for candidates vying for those types of offices.
Obtain a sample ballot
The first step in making an informed decision regarding candidates that are seeking office in any capacity in your district is to obtain a sample ballot.
This is very easy. Access either your Secretary of State or your county website and follow the directions for printing a sample ballot. If your printer does not accommodate legal size paper, choose “shrink to print to fit size 8 ½” x 11″ or “scale to size,” etc., depending on your style printer.
Research the candidates
Do a search (Google or Bing will work) on each candidate’s name, and then follow the trail of the articles that seem relevant. You can make good use of the sample ballot that you have printed while you are doing the research by circling or highlighting the names of the candidates that you feel will do the best job.
It is also helpful to make a list of the names that you have chosen on a 3″ x 5″ card, in the order they appear on the ballot, and take it with you to the polls.
If the candidate is running unopposed, you can still research that individual and vote for him or her if you like, or not vote for that individual and either do a write-in vote or omit voting for that office. Even if the individual is likely to win when unopposed, you will know that you have done due diligence and haven’t added your vote to those of others for someone that you feel is not one for whom you would like to cast your vote of confidence.
Voters have many decisions to make
On my sample ballot there are 15 sections on the front side of the ballot which cover the federal, state, county, city and school district offices, and 30 sections on the reverse side which covers the judicial offices.
All of your research does not have to be done at one time; you can divide up the sections so that some are researched each day between now and November 2.
Voters must remember to carefully follow the rules for voting when they are at the polls; challenged ballots can make a big difference in the outcomes of elections.
An American citizen’s right to vote is a precious privilege. It carries with it the responsibility to make informed decisions regarding those persons for whom you are casting votes. Vote, but not “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” style. Instead, vote with all of the knowledge that you can garner between now and November 2.
And please don’t forget to research the candidates for judicial offices!
Personal experience and opinion