Each election cycle, Injustice Watch compiles a guide with information about the people running for judge in Cook County, IL. While judicial elections may seem obscure, judges have immense power over peoples’ lives, and once they are elected, they are very rarely removed from the bench. With approximately 400 judges in Cook County, our goal is to educate voters about the importance of these elections and provide our community with the resources they need to make informed decisions.
For the 2022 primary election, we created an advisory board and sought feedback from former judges and judicial candidates, people who have been directly affected by the court system, lawyers, academics, and community organizers. We partnered with Chicago Public Radio’s “Curious City” podcast and asked Cook County residents what they wanted to know about judicial elections. We also partnered with Equip for Equality, a local disability rights organization, to learn how we could make our guide accessible to voters with disabilities.
Our editorial team spent months researching the 75 judicial candidates, including each person’s work history, legal experience, community involvement, campaign finance information, and more. We sent every candidate a survey asking them about their upbringing, experience, and thoughts on judicial power. We compiled all the information, translated it to Spanish, and created digital and print versions of our judicial election guide.
We printed 180,000 copies of our guide and prioritized distribution in the communities that have been most directly affected by the court system. We sent 3,000 copies to eligible voters in the Cook County Jail and partnered with more than 80 community organizations, churches, and local businesses to distribute copies throughout Cook County. We hosted a distribution party and handed out guides on sidewalks in 22 Chicago neighborhoods. And we partnered with several local media organizations and included our guide as an insert in 11 community papers.
We shared our guide at community events, sent postcards about our guide to Cook County residents, took over Block Club Chicago’s morning newsletter, hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything, and partnered with WBEZ’s “Curious City” to create a podcast and host a judicial elections office hour. Our reporters were guests on several local news shows to promote the guide, including “City Cast Chicago,” CAN-TV, The Daily Line, and WBEZ’s “Reset.”