Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Elections Include Judges

This year, 2012, is a big presidential election year, but did you know that many judges in Ohio will also be on the ballot?

Although you might be a long way off from reaching 18 and being able to vote, it’s important to know how your local judges are selected. Watch closely the March 6 primary and the Nov. 6 general election to see who’s running for judge. After all, they are part of the third branch of government, and in Ohio, they are chosen by the people.

All Ohio voters will be able to vote for three of the seven Supreme Court Justices since those candidates run statewide. And just as in other even-numbered years, some judges in other jurisdictions will also be elected. They are from appeals courts, common pleas courts, and county courts whose six-year terms have ended or those who were appointed by the governor in 2011 and must now run to finish unexpired terms. Municipal court judges are the only judges who run for office in odd-numbered years.

All judges in Ohio are elected to six-year terms. Judges without an election opponent automatically receive another full term, but judges may not run if they would be 70 at the time the new term begins. There are many special rules called “Judicial Canons” that judicial candidates must follow during their campaigning.

There’s also a difference between the primary election and general election for judges. In the primary, judges appear on the ballot of the specific party that has endorsed them. In the November general election, though, a party letter does not appear after the name of a judge because the general election is “non-partisan.” This is because a judge does not represent a particular party or its agenda, but is expected to follow the law impartially for all.

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