Local impact of judicial candidates up for election on voters

YORK, Pa. -- Tuesday is Election Day. Voters won't find candidates for president or governor on the ballot in this off election year, but there are many state and local judges in the running.

Presidential elections often inspire more voters to head to the polls to cast their vote for Commander-in-Chief than for anyone else, but there are several candidates who are a lot closer to home on this year's ballot.

League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Suzanne Almeida said "we're voting for judges, who we know affect everything that happens in our lives, from child care to environmental policy, where you're kids go to school."

Retired judge John Ulher said "divorces, adoption, issues surround orphan court matters, estate matters. There's a myriad of functions that impact on our lives."

Many of those decisions are made by the judicial roles that are up for election on the local level, including candidates for magisterial district judge, and Court of Common Pleas. Uhler said there are several positions to be filled on the state level as well.

"The Supreme Court, Superior Courts, Commonwealth Court are all appellate courts, and impact upon decisions that are challenged from the Court of Common Pleas," Uhler said.

Many of the candidates may be unfamiliar to some voters, but there are several online resources available such as PAVoteSmart.com and the League of Women Voters online guide, Vote411.org.

"You can put in your address, not for every county, but for many counties, you can get all of the races that are on your ballot. The great thing about Vote411 is that it's candidate driven, so we given them the questions and they give us the answers," Almeida said.

Finding out in advance which judges will be on the ballot, and learning what they stand can prepare voters for Election Day.

"It's imperative that the elector has the background to determine whether a judge can be, and will be fair and impartial, competent, and willing to listen to both sides before making a decision," Uhler said.

"An informed electorate is an electorate that has power, and that government works best when people have the power, and people exercise that power," Almeida said