In his 1892 autobiography, Frederick Douglass said “the liberties of the American people were dependent upon the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box; that without these no class of people could live and flourish in this country … ”
Many people choose not to vote, which is their right as much as it is those of us who vote in every election. However, there are many voters who only choose to turn out for the presidential elections every four years and ignore the rest of the elections, which may have a greater impact on their lives than the nationally elected officials.
While we are constantly inundated with news from sources with varying reliability on the national level, our local and state elections are likely to affect our day-to-day lives far more.
Judicial elections are even less popular with voters. Some of it may be that judicial candidates cannot, or at the very least, should not say how they will rule in specific classes of cases. This is difficult for the judicial candidates because they really cannot elaborate on their political beliefs, leaving them to only talk about their qualifications and community involvement.
However, judicial races are extremely important. Our judges often serve as the decision makers on so many different matters that may fall in front of them and though you may plan on never being in front of a judge, that plan may not be foolproof given the breadth of our judicial system. Granted, it may be a hearing for a ticket or probate, but these hearings are still extremely important.
One of the most dangerous things you may hear about are activist judges deciding cases based on their own viewpoint rather on the law. We have elected state appellate courts as an option to potentially appeal those decisions, but that comes at significant expense and more uncertainty to the parties involved in the lawsuit.
In areas that lean heavily toward one party, that makes it just as critical to vote in the primaries and the primary runoffs.
There are many arms of the government and the judiciary is an extremely important one. Do your homework, reach out to the candidates with questions and cast an informed ballot in our judicial runoffs.
After all, you’ll be exercising your rights regarding the people who have broad authority to decide cases in which you may find yourself involved.
Early voting runs through July 10 and the runoff election day is July 14th.