Marvin Setty Richard G Waldron Grand Marshals selected for West Union Fourth of July Parade Adams County, Maysville Vet team up to save injured dog Michael S Knauff Victor P Price Success builds from the bottom up Finalists named for 2017 Fair Queen Contest William Glenn DeWine, Reader Call For Tips in Rhoden Murder Investigation MHS principal to take superintendent post Peebles Skate Park now a reality 2017-18 Fur and Feather Ambassadors named Caley Grooms is Cattlemen’s Beef Ambassador Dr. Mueller leaving Health Department’s free clinic Hourglass Quilt Barn returning to Adams County Lung, Thornburg are First Team All-District selections North Adams hosts annual Boys Basketball Camps Walk-off winner Wanda Hill George D Johnson Life can be a juggling act My favorite thing to do on the farm Wolves in Adams County! Ronald L Wedmore Three lessons from Dad Donald D Morgan Wenstrup uninjured in Virginia shooting Portman staff to hold grant funding workshop Raymond E Applegate Keeping the Peebles tradition alive Back on the hardwood, local hoops squads compete in Monday Night League Seven county athletes recognized as All-SHAC Baseball honorees Stepping to the podium Lady Hounds host Youth Volleyball Camp Senior Profile: Bryan Young Junior Deputy Boot Camps kick off in Manchester Hayes pleads “not guilty” to 109 counts Six-year-old girl finds long-lost class ring Jefferson Alumni awards annual scholarships Paul Tate Jr Marcus I Cox Jewell Gill James M Hill Jr Jeffrey S Jones Samuel A Disher Jack Sterling BREAKING NEWS: Parents face charges after son overdoses on opiate License Hikes and Tall Turkey Tales Danger under every rock Reigning Miss Ohio USA will judge 2017 Adams County Fair Queen Pageant Gordley’s hoops career will continue at Mount St. Joseph Russell C Newman Kenneth C Thurman George Uebel Summer Reading Program underway Honor Flight carries local veteran to DC When rescuers become victims Passing the torch, West Union hosts week-long basketball camp for future Dragons SENIOR PROFILE: Sara Knechtly Terry L Powell Willie Shreffler James C Fitzpatrick Senior Profile: Austin Parks Six countians named to All-SHAC Softball squad Lady Indians get summer camp season underway Memorial Day services pay tribute to local veterans WUHS Steel Band will perform at Bogart’s SSCC announces Honors Lists for spring semester Peebles Elementary releases Honor Roll for final nine weeks West Union Elementary announces Honor Roll for fourth nine weeks Back to State! Mom calls daughter “living proof” seat belts save lives Rent-2-Own donation means new soccer scoreboard at WUHS NAHS student selected for Engineering Summer Camp Southern Hills Athletic Conferences honors Spring Sports athletes Senior Profile: Kailyn Boyd Madison Welch receives Riffle Scholarship Junior Achievement Volunteers visit county’s seventh graders Marcella J Abbott James Ratliff Gladys Davitz Harry G Shupert Memories on Memorial Day A soldier’s story, a family’s grief Thank You for your sacrifice Seaman community honors local veterans with special tribute Former PES teacher dies in tragic accident All County Senior Citizens Day celebrated Parks signs with SSCC Soccer Senior Profile: Lexie Bunn Jessie Rodgers Memorial Day services set for county Truly our greatest generation Bertha Lashley Maia Swartz Jessie Rodgers Errors spell the end of Devils’ baseball season Senior Profile: Carry Hayslip Lady Hounds’ season ends with tourney loss to Paint Valley

Make your judicial vote count

As the voting patterns were analyzed after the Nov. 6, 2012 general election, one thing became clear: a lot of Cuyahoga County voters who cast a ballot for president didn’t vote for judge. In fact, the Cuyahoga County judicial voter drop-off that year was as high as 40 percent.

That fact and others led me to propose a three-point plan to reform judicial elections in Ohio. Two aspects of the plan include moving all judicial races to odd-numbered years and to the top of the ballot and increasing the qualifications to serve as judge.

The third part of my plan became a reality on Sept. 1 with the launch of the first statewide judicial voter education website: JudicialVotesCount.org. For the first time, Ohioans will have access to quality information about all candidates for judge in the 2015 races.

I have partnered with several organizations to better educate Ohioans about judges to increase meaningful voter participation, including: the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, which houses the website; the Ohio State Bar Association; the League of Women Voters of Ohio; the Ohio Newspaper Association; and the Ohio Association of Broadcasters.

In addition to candidate profiles, JudicialVotesCount.org 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.

With 2015 being an odd-numbered year, there are more than 80 candidates seeking nearly 60 municipal court judgeships in about 30 counties across the state. 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. All judges in Ohio are elected to six-year terms.

Another impetus for creating the website came from a recent survey of 1,067 registered Ohio voters who said the biggest reason they don’t vote for judge 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, I continue to be concerned about judicial voter drop-off. In some elections, a quarter of the electorate – or more – skips voting for judges, who, by law, are listed near the bottom of the ballot. A separate finding in the 2014 survey also confirmed the existence of the drop-off phenomenon, as about half of the respondents admitted they seldom vote in judicial elections.

I believe it’s unreasonable to expect voters to be knowledgeable about judicial candidates when that information either doesn’t exist or it’s difficult to find. JudicialVotesCount.org strives to give voters easy access to quality information. It is my hope that by raising awareness about the availability of this type of information, voter participation in judicial races will increase. Better still, I hope that more Ohioans become better educated about their judges and vote in a more informed way rather than relying on a good ballot name.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, you will hear more about the Judicial Votes Count project. In addition to the website, we have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and a YouTube channel to spread the word. Please follow, like, and watch.

Judges make important decisions affecting the lives of Ohioans every day. Go to JudicialVotesCount.org and take the time to learn who’s on the ballot for your local court, their legal background, and why they are running for judge. Take that knowledge, step into the ballot box on Nov. 3, and make your judicial vote count.

Maureen O’Connor is chief justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio.

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Maureen O’Connor

Contributing Columnist

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