Glencoe, Elections

‘Check Your Judges’: Injustice Watch’s Judicial Election Guide sheds light on lesser discussed portion of ballot

On Election Day, the largest segment on the ballot is often the most ignored. For the past seven years, a Chicagoland nonprofit has worked hard to change that.

Injustice Watch again developed a Judicial Election Guide (also available in Spanish) to prepare voters for what can be an overwhelming bottom of the ballot.

“When we started doing this guide in 2016, there was very little information available on judicial candidates,” said Jonah Newman, managing editor of Injustice Watch. “… We wanted to fill this information gap in Cook County.

“Judges are really important public officials whose decisions have direct impact on people’s lives, think divorces, evictions, foreclosures, criminal cases. They have impact and a lot of power.”

The digital guide takes Injustice Watch around six months to produce, Newman said, as the organization’s reporters collect information on candidates’ past decisions, community involvement, local connections, endorsements and more. The info is then compiled into a user-friendly guide that gives users a preview of their ballot and comprehensive profiles of each candidate.

Users can then print or save their ballots — with or without candidate selections — to use as a reference inside the voting booth. Newman said the guide is nonpartisan and does not include recommendations.

When Injustice Watch first launched the guide, Newman said about 66 percent of county voters made a selection in at least one judicial rate. Eight years later, he said, that number is 79 percent.

“I do think our guide has played a significant role” in that increase, Newman said. “We helped change the conversation in Cook County and put a lot of work into voter education, why it’s important and why it’s worth taking time and doing research on judicial candidates.”

Cook County is divided into 15 judicial districts. New Trier Township is primarily in the 9th District, for which there are no elections this cycle; however, county-wide, voters can vote in one Illinois Supreme Court race (contested), four appellate races (2 contested) and 11 circuit court elections (4 contested).

• Click here to view Injustice Watch’s Judicial Election Guide

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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