Cook County judicial candidates: ratings and deep dives

Every couple of years, Cook County voters are faced with the same dilemma: How to pick from dozens of judicial candidates?

Luckily, there's help.

First, the basics: In February or March of even-numbered years, Cook residents can vote for judicial candidates in party-based primary elections. In Chicago, almost all the judicial candidates appear on the Democratic Party ballot.

In some years, a staggering number of candidates—50 or more—run for the bench on the primary's Democratic ballot. As many as five or six might vie for a particular position. How does a voter choose?

One long-time source of help: the ratings found at the Web site. The site compiles candidate evaluations done by eleven Chicago-area bar associations. (Find the 2018 primary-election candidate ratings here.)

The ratings have at least one drawback: In some cases (as shown below), bar associations provide similar, favorable ratings for two or more competing candidates—so the choice isn't obvious.judge rec

For those positions, voters can do a deeper dive on particular candidates—thanks to candidate profiles provided by a group called Injustice Watch. For the 2018 primary election, search for candidates' names in Injustice Watch's rundown here.

Want to learn more about evaluations? See Injustice Watch's article by Emily Hoerner and Jeanne Kuang. Hoerner and Kuang looked into the challenges faced by bar associations that rate judicial candidates.

Helpfully, Inside Chicago Government has a video that walks voters through the judicial candidate ratings. It's a couple of years old, but the routine is unchanged. And it's on YouTube.

One more thing: Want to see your ballot before going to vote? Chicagoans can visit the Web site of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, and look for "Your Voter Information." You can download your ballot, mark it up, and take it along when you vote.