Thankfully, we're inching ever closer to Election Day, and the most common question I've been asked, right after "is it over yet?" is "what's the deal with judicial elections? How do I know who to vote for?"
This is a hard question, because it is often challenging to figure out what a judge thinks about issues you care about. Sure, you can look at your past rulings, but those are not always readily available, and quite frankly, none of us have the time to make sense of legal transcripts and briefs. And how do you know what someone thinks if they're running to be a judge, and haven't ever served before?
Thankfully, the Independent Judicial Elections Qualifications Committee, a third-party rating site, has reviewed the qualifications of some of the judges on the ballot in New York. You can find out which judges , and other races on your ballot, by going to this site.
The New York Bar Association has a slightly more comprehensive list of judicial bios. They do not give a quality rating, but allow you to learn more about the candidates, from the perspective of the candidates. Once again, not every candidate listed on your ballot will have a bio there, since some people chose not to submit bios.
There may be other ratings on other bar association websites, though I have yet to find any. And again, these are ratings for qualification, so they will not tell you the judges political opinions, nor how closely they have stuck to those opinions. And many judges are listed across several different parties, so someone's presence on the Democrat and Conservative line doesn't necessarily mean they are a Democrat or Conservative.
The New York City Campaign Finance Board also created a voter guide, but I couldn't find anything about the judges running in my district. I hope you all have better luck. Ballotopedia was a little more helpful, providing some non-biased, biographical information about the judges. What I'm saying is, you may have to cross reference a wide variety of different sites to find information about which judicial candidates are the most qualified. And you'll have to do it for a couple of different candidates because many courts have multiple vacancies that need to be filled.
As for other election information, I have covered it before so you can learn all you need to about how to find your poll site, which New York State law allows you to take off work, who your Senators and Assemblypeople are, and look at that hilarious picture of Chuck Schumer at Obama's inauguration. If anyone else has questions about voting on Tuesday after reading everything, you know how to find me! You all have the tools to make an informed decision, now go forth and make a positive electoral change my little voters!
*Why yes, the title is a Sweet Caroline reference, thank you for noticing.