We know justice as a blindfolded woman. Yet court decisions and our life experiences show that humans do not uniformly reach the same outcomes with similar circumstance. For that reason, the Chicago Appleseed has created a voter education website to protect the court system and to help voters vote more responsibly.
In Illinois, a judge on the sub circuit level has the same powers as a judge county-wide and could eventually wind up in any division of the Circuit Court. Voters are therefore encouraged to take their power to vote seriously and to learn about who they are voting for and what they stand for.
This is particularly appropriate in Cook County where the primary election of new judges will be take place on March 20th. A voter can determine within 15 minutes whether a candidate is qualified to be a judge by looking at performance evaluations and recommendations on the Chicago Appleseed website.
These reports come from non-partisans such as the Chicago Bar Association, The Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening (Alliance) and the Chicago Council of Lawyers. This removes the need for voters to make a decision based on the familiarity of who has canvassed and placed signs in your local area and shifts this decision to their past work, not their future promises.
Appleseed’s efforts seek to obviate recent Princeton research that suggests uninformed voters dominate the democratic function.
“Through initial modeling and then experimentation using schools of fish, researchers from Princeton
University showed that, even with an extremely loud minority, having ignorant or untrained individuals in the group tended to put control in the hands of the majority. The more uninformed individuals, the greater the effect seemed to be, up until the uninformed dominate the group and democratic function ceases.”
The Princeton scenario suggests the blind actually wind up leading the blind. But because Appleseed is committed to identifying injustice and then finding solutions, its website offers a proactive effort to increase the number of voters making better decisions. The online effort may not reach seniors or the homeless, but the website expands Appleseed’s reach to other advocates who work with these constituents in shelters or food banks, thereby expanding the possibilities for equitable justice to take place.
Photo credit: Thinkstock