New website offers info on Ohio judicial races - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

New website offers info on Ohio judicial races

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

The first statewide judicial voter education website has been launched to provide Ohioans with information about all of the 2015 judicial races.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor has partnered with several organizations to better educate Ohioans about judges in an effort to increase meaningful voter participation.

JudicialVotesCount.org is one part of Justice O’Connor’s three-point plan to reform judicial elections in Ohio. The other aspects include moving all judicial races to odd-numbered years and to the top of the ballot and increasing the qualifications to serve as judge.

With 2015 being an odd-numbered year, municipal court judges are up for election on Nov. 3 in Ohio. Next year, JudicialVotesCount.org will include information on candidates for the Supreme Court, appeals courts, common pleas courts, and county courts, as judges for those courts are elected in even-numbered years.

In addition to candidate profiles, the website features information about what judges do, descriptions about the duties of different courts, and brief videos of former judges explaining how the court system works.

The impetus for creating the website came from a survey of 1,067 registered Ohio voters who said the biggest reason they don’t vote for judges is because they don’t know enough about the candidates. The survey, which was conducted in October 2014 by the Bliss Institute, focused on the drop-off in votes cast in judicial races.

In speaking out on the issue over the last three years, Chief Justice O’Connor has expressed concern that in some elections more than a quarter of the electorate skips voting for judges who are, by law, listed near the bottom of the ballot. About half of the 2014 survey respondents admitted they seldom vote in judicial elections.

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