Headed to the District Finals Betty D Cox Michael L Evans Thelma R Stamper Therese A Boerger Lady Indians go down in straight sets to Valley in sectional play Manchester hosts the inaugural Southern Ohio Cheer Challenge NAHS girls claim soccer sectional title Seas siblings are SHAC Cross-Country champions Lady Devils will collect fourth consecutive SHAC gold ball trophy Lady Hounds ousted in sectional tourney opener Peebles Lions Club holding Thanksgiving fund raiser FFA Fruit sales have begun, run until Nov. 18 Historical marker is repaired PES will present ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Eagle Creek Health and Rehabilitation Center Open House showcases new unit PES teacher honored by ACOVSD Board Friends of North Adams Library dedicate new brick Veterans Memorial Senior Profile: Landon Wright Geneva E Vogler Susan L Kremin Local golf teams complete play at state tournament Lady Dragons make school history with tournament win Browning gets hands-on look at NASA’s latest robotics Local beautician celebrates 80th birthday Health Department appeals to November voters Betty R Toller Senior Profile: Craig Horton Helen F Hoffer Super Saturday at Freedom Field Lady Dragons hang on for five-set victory over Manchester Seventh Grade Lady Hounds are SHAC Tournament champions Peebles Elementary announces September Students of the Month Rideout’s Muffler celebrating 40th anniversary this month Senior Citizens levy will appear on November ballot Bonnie J Orr Dorothy M Edenfield Senior Profile: Grace Barge Jerry Paquette Dragons get big 38-20 win at Green Manchester takes varsity team titles at West Union Invitational Lady Devils knock off Peebles on Volley For the Cure Night Manhunt ends with arrest of alleged bank robber Senior Profile: Kelsey Friend Lady Dragons finish as District Runners-Up Sectional pairings announced for volleyball and soccer 2 and 3 and worried is me Patricia Clift Adams County Humane Agent saves abandoned dogs and puppies Tourism had major economic impact on Adams County in 2015 Senator Portman brings his campaign to Adams County Betty E Lawson Sanborn NAHS holds National Honor Society induction ceremonies Harlan W Benjamin Joyce A Lafferty Senior Profile: Lee Hesler Dragons get SHAC win, 2-1 over Fairfield North Adams tops Peebles in ‘Kickin Cancer’ battles Double duty coming at Boys’ State Golf Tournament as West Union and North Adams both qualify Humane Society providing ‘Straws For Paws’ North Adams Elementary honors students and staff Russell Rockwell Julie L Wagner Hobert C Robinson Samuel D McClellan Brenda S Bare Clarencce Walker Jr Dolly M Hilterbrandt Jack Roush Day returns to Manchester West Union FFA has busy opening to school year ODOT opens new full-service Maintenance Facility Peebles Elementary introduces Peer Mentoring program Frost is recipient of Morgan Memorial Scholarship Peebles Fire Department has a new addition Heritage Days return to Tranquility Wheat Ridge Olde Thyme Herb Fair and Harvest Festival begins Friday Caraway Farm hosts annual Pumpkin Festival ‘Run Gio’ makes a visit to Adams County Senior Profile: Mackenzie Smith West Union, North Adams grab top two spots in Division III golf sectional tournament This memory will live with me forever Will M Stern West Union and North Adams-State Bound! Lillian N Smith Betty R Shelton Barbara ER Bohl Brenda Farley Senior Profile: Caitlyn Bradford Dragons roar to 40-0 Homecoming victory Greyhounds take three of four races at annual Adams County Meet Monarch Meadows holds grand opening Discovering a touch of glass on Erie’s Shores Junior L Conaway William B Brumley Sr Fred G Davis Ohio Valley FFA Officers for 2016-17 named ACRMC Emergency Care Center renamed after Dr. Bruce Ashley West Union holds football Homecoming festivities First graders pick the Sheriff Cross honored by ODNR with the prestigious Cardinal Award

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.


Maureen O’Connor

Contributing Columnist

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