Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: Voters must realize the crucial impact that judicial elections have

<p>A gavel is placed on its block in one of the courtrooms at the Cuyahoga County Court House, February 11, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. </p>

A gavel is placed on its block in one of the courtrooms at the Cuyahoga County Court House, February 11, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Historically, judicial elections have been downplayed by voters and political commentators alike, yet they arguably have the most direct impact on communities. Judges play the crucial role of decision-maker in a variety of cases.

Congressional and presidential races often overshadow local judicial races, yet judges have a direct effect on the lives of countless people. Their role requires them to hand out sentences, protect rights and ensure procedure is followed. Simply put, voters can directly influence the administration of justice through casting ballots for judicial elections. 

Even though seemingly popular and high-profile politicians take up much of the spotlight leading up to elections, they aren’t the ones actually evaluating cases and handing out sentences with accordance to the law. 

Circuit court judges within the majority of Indiana are selected through partisan elections and hold six-year terms with no term limits. Monroe County Circuit Court Divisions 1, 2 and 8 are all currently contested seats with voters deciding the outcome this election. The Monroe County Circuit Court has jurisdiction over cases ranging from petty disputes to felonies.

Circuit court judges act as a frontline for the state’s judicial system as they hear a plethora of different cases. Moreover, they ensure citizens' rights are upheld through the impartial administration of justice. Monroe County voters should realize they owe it to themselves and their community to cast educated votes for the upcoming judicial elections. 

Since citizens are allowed and entitled to have a voice in selecting judge who represent their values, they might as well make an informed vote. Elected judges hold immense power because their duty requires them to interpret and represent the law. Citizens should cast votes for judicial officials whose interpretation of the law falls in line with their own individual ideals. 

The political news cycle places an emphasis on covering prominent partisan governors, senators and representatives. Judicial elections seem almost arcane and inaccessible in comparison. As mainstream politics continue to exemplify qualities of political theater, voters must recognize the perils of spectacle. Rather than getting wrapped up in national political punditry fueled by the media, voters should shift their focus to local issues that affect themselves, their families and ultimately their community as a whole.

Local elections allow for amplified voices from voters compared to national elections. Within local elections, the general electorate is smaller, which means each individual vote holds more weight.

Political change starts locally and it takes informed voters to drive this shift. 

Monroe County residents can find the candidates on their specific ballots by checking the Indiana voter portal and clicking “Who’s on the Ballot.”

Kishan Dhulashia (he/him) is a sophomore studying business economics and public policy. He’s currently involved on campus with Indian Student Association as the photography and videography chair.

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