Many Texans go to the polls unprepared to vote in judicial elections. They don’t know much if anything about the candidates, and they stop voting when they get to that section of the ballot — or worse, just guess.
The reasons for this phenomenon may be that judicial candidates haven’t sufficiently gotten the word out about their qualifications, or voters may not fully realize the extraordinary impact judges can have on their lives.
A judge has the power to make crucial decisions that can affect Texans every day, including custody of children, water rights and even constitutional rights. This is why it is important that Texans not only vote in judicial elections but also elect those who are most qualified to be excellent judges.
Excellent judges will have the experience, background and judicial philosophy to make sound decisions. They understand their role — to interpret the law as it was written — creates stability and predictability.
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They will make good decisions that protect individuals and foster a vibrant business climate, contributing to Texas’ economic growth. These are the types of qualified judges we need to elect to our judiciary in Texas.
We urge voters to do their homework before Election Day. Look at the candidates’ reputation in the community, their experience on the bench and in the courtroom.
Gather as much information as you can about the candidates and make an informed vote for the most qualified.
The ballots for judicial races can be long and feel overwhelming to some voters. In some large urban areas such as Fort Worth, there may be as many as 21 judicial races on the ballot.
However, each and every one of these judges can have an impact on your business, your personal privacy and constitutional freedoms.
There are a number of resources that can help voters gather information about candidates, including the League of Women Voters guide.
The Texas Civil Justice League (TCJL) has also created a website with in-depth, unbiased information about judicial candidates ( TexasJudges.org). The website includes video interviews with several prominent experts on the Texas judicial system discussing the qualifications of good judges and the role they play in our lives.
Please educate yourself, and cast your vote!
Early voting runs Feb. 18 through Feb. 28. The primary elections are March 4.
Harriet O’Neill is a former Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. George Scott Christian is senior counsel for the Texas Civil Justice League.