Leslie V Lawrence Jr Fair hosts Cheerleading Competition Peebles FFA installs 2017-18 Officers Seniors Citizens and Armed Forces Day at the fair Cheers! It’s mocktail time! North Adams Beta Club attends National Convention at Disney ‘You won’t believe the chaos it rains around you’ McCarty’s receive 4-H Alumni award McKayla Raines crowned 2017 Junior Fair Queen Eastern knocks off Peebles 10-5 to capture 14 U baseball tourney Just listen for the answer Time to teach a little History Fair hosts Little Miss and Mister, Toddler shows Jason E Palmer Dorothy Stephenson Shane G Varney The weekend I joined the Army David Stutz Patty Davis Battle results in new chief at the Division of Wildlife Join in with ‘Adams County Rocks’ After 500-mile journey, pigeon ‘drops’ in for a visit Nine-run third inning leads Peebles to upset win in SHYL 12U baseball tournament finals Willie L White David A Presley Connie Greene Carolyn Belczyk retiring from OSU Extension Young’s reign as Fair Queen ends, new journey begins Robert L Boone Esther C Malone Independence Day parade puts patriotism on display Being an addict’s mom: a sad and scary place to be White House newest addition to People’s Defender mailing list Young leaving Manchester to become Ripley Principal Leadoff homer holds up, Manchester takes 10U softball tourney 1-0 over North Adams North Adams tops Manchester in 12U semis Monday Night League concludes with SHAC showdown How we see ourselves In the good ole’ summertime Ronnie L Roush Elizabeth A Gifford Tom White Ivan H Copas Kathleen Lewis Paul Minton Jessica A Edmisten Workhouse helps free up jail space Penguin ‘chills’ with kids in library visit ‘Heroin has taken me to my darkest places’ The beauty of the giant combine West Union gets past North Adams 5-2 in 10U baseball tourney play Eastern Brown hosts annual Girls Soccer Shootout “It’s been a real community effort” Summer ball winds down for local squads Submit your Knothole team photos! Gokey, Morgan, Young to perform at 2017 Festival of the Bells Just looking around the room When in the course of human events When your dreams seem out of reach Ricky A Smith Ricky A Smith Dean McClellan Ruby O Shell Peggy R Atkinson Caroline E Fulton Marcia R Baldwin Juanita N Lewis Mary K Hilterbran Jack D Reed ‘I had no gumption except to get high’ Long-lost siblings meet for the first time after nearly six decades apart Freedom Festival to honor the American Flag ‘Music and Memory’ at Adams County Manor renews lives lost to dementia Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy takes gold at 2017 Ohio Police and Fire Games Toole awarded Winchester Alumni Scholarship Lady Devils host Summer Varsity Shootout In 14U, Peebles finishes regular season with blowout win Der professionelle Basketball-Traum Local pair attend Wabash College Wrestling Camp Shootouts in the summer time Eight dollars and three keys When life gets messy Hot summer days were no sweat Janice McGlothin Jeannine O Evans Gerald Grooms 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

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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