Linda M Howland Nellie B Hayslip Russell E Bailey Gladys M Perdue Commissioners meet in Columbus with DP&L CEO Tom Raga Missing the Dirtrollers The farms that aren’t forgotten Flora Hilderbran Commissioners to meet with DP&L officials New state graduation requirements called a ‘train wreck’ Catching up with Keller Senior Profile: Justin Knechtly Piketon size is too much for Lady Indians, Peebles falls in sectional finals Greyhounds grab Senior Night win Indians finish regular season riding six-game winning streak Harper, Hupp, Defense lead Lady Devils to fourth consecutive sectional championship West Union Elementary recognizes Students of the Month for January Second Healthy Hero awarded by Adams County Health and Wellness Coalition Coal company files to intervene in power plant closings Senior Profile: Jessica Sowards Senior Profile: Dennis Welch Dorothy E Walls Mabel Chamblin Michael R Jones Marie I Simmons Ray Johnson One thing to remember this President’s Day Adams County Deer Harvest down over 21% MLSD amends five-year budget, prepares for future with power plant closings Lady Dragons triumph in sectional opener Lady Hounds eighth graders capture SHAC Tournament title Gary L Fetters Sr Boys Sectional brackets released ‘We’re only as good as the way we treat others’ Another round of smiles Adams County Board of DD members recognized Terry L Unger 8th Grade Lady Devils ousted in tourney semis WU’s McCarty signs with Ohio Christian Joyce A Huddleson Carolyn Spires BREAKING NEWS: Peebles police search for man accused of selling marijuana-laced sweets Decision Time BBN Senior Profile: Summer Grundy Lady Devils fall to Southeastern, 56-48 Devils outlast Manchester 47-44 in double overtime Peebles holds second Hall of Fame Ceremony Senior Profile: Patrick England Sowards hits 1,000, ties PHS three-point mark County agencies prepare for sweeping budget cuts Manchester Council votes to cut police chief’s hours Wrestling debuts in Adams County Peebles Library hosts book signing As plants power down, community must step up Raymond P Dryden Alva Palmer Billie L Shoemaker Judith Long Brent A Arn Girls basketball sectional pairings announced WU’s Weeks will continue gridiron career at next level West Union JH Boys drop pair at Ripley Eighth Grade Lady Hounds roll into SHAC semi-finals Janet A Kennedy DP&L moving ahead with plans to close power plants Outreach Center in Peebles is a hub of giving River Sweep contest winners announced Gordley hits 1,000 mark, but Indians drop crucial SHAC contest to Lynchburg Manchester lifters compete at Piketon Senior Profile: Madelyn Sanders Charles L Hurd Randy Casto Bobby Strunk Dorothy J Scott Chester A Lanter Coach David Smalley picks up 500th career win at Rio Grande Dustin Holbrook Senior Profile: Camron Gordley As usual, optimism abounds on 2017 Reds Caravan Breeze, Beasley newest members of NAHS Athletic HOF Two humble men Adams County Manor Home Health Care makes road to recovery easier Don and Venita Bowles named as Outstanding Fair Supporters ‘Tip off For Tammy’ is a huge success, joint effort by two schools Husted campaign makes stop in Peebles Benefit held for double-lung transplant recipient I loved that muddy water, building in the creek Margaret E Broughton Larry A Hanson DP&L press release confirms closing of power plants Eighth grade girls showdown lives up to hype, North Adams wins in overtime, 45-43 Senior Profile: Raeanna Stamm North Adams Football sign-ups coming soon North Adams JV girls go 11-4 with win over Peebles Harper wins MaxPreps/JJHuddle Athlete of the Week West Union duo headed to the college gridiron Lady Devils make it 11 straight with win at Peebles Adams County residents attend Trump Inauguration A Look back at our Archives Peebles native comes home to film documentary

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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