Internet used to help voters decide

by Ann Knef |
Jul. 27, 2006, 8:04am

The November general election which once appeared light years away is just a scant three months down the road.

Even though campaign contributions will not rise to the record level spent on the 2004 Illinois Supreme Court race, judicial races in Madison and St. Clair counties are sure to be hard-fought.

Democratic judicial candidates in Madison County are banding together with messages of reform. The "team" is attempting to reach constituents via the Internet.

"With the widely criticized 2004 Illinois Supreme Court campaign and its aggressively negative thirty-second television commercials fresh in their minds, area judges are turning to the Internet to put more information at voters' fingertips," according to a press release distributed by a spokesperson working for the county Democrats.

Several judicial candidates have purchased advertising on the Record's website with links to the individual candidates' websites.

A non-partisan group, the Illinois Civil Justice League, has launched to provide a central point for information on judicial candidates and retention.

Ed Murnane, president of the ICJL, said the website allows voters to find candidates by choosing their own county or their own judicial circuit.

Each judicial candidate also has received a questionnaire from the Illinois Civil Justice League and the answers provided to that questionnaire are republished on the website. First launched in 2000, the website is now in its fourth election cycle and has logged hundreds of thousands of hits, he said.

"All candidates get an equal opportunity to participate," said Murnane. "We invite all candidates to submit a biography, we link to their financial reports and each candidate's individual website, they can choose to answer our judicial survey, and we include not only our own endorsements - but endorsements from other media entities and organizations."

Third Circuit Chief Judge Ann Callis is quoted in a campaign press release as saying, "We need to run judicial campaigns that are worthy of the office. That means giving voters the kind of substantive, credible information they need to make good decisions. A web site can offer so much more information than a television commercial or even most campaign brochures."

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