With Election Day fast approaching, it’s easy to focus only on the headline-grabbing national races. So many of us have, at one time or another, found ourselves in a voting booth staring at a list of candidates in the local races, having either never heard any of the names, or being unable to articulate each candidate’s platform or otherwise meaningfully distinguish between the candidates. This is partially a function of time and partially a function of interest. With so many issues and decisions on the national front, it becomes harder to justify devoting time and effort to local races that, by comparison, appear meaningless.
If there’s one type of race about which New Yorkers of all stripes and political persuasions should truly care, however, it’s the various races deciding the currently vacant elective judicial offices in New York State. Having a President who shares your views on important issues is nice; having a judge who is capable, competent, fair, intelligent and thoughtful is crucial to our livelihoods, the efficient administration of justice and the establishment of just and responsible legal precedents.
Hopefully, none of you will be charged with a crime or involved in ongoing litigation in the near future. Still, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the judicial candidates prior to the election, so that those New Yorkers who hit the voting booths this November are voting with conscience and knowledge, rather than randomly. To that end, the Office of Court Administration has compiled a Voter Guide for the judicial races, complete with third-party ratings of the candidates’ qualifications.