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Bar strives to educate voters

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Bar strives to educate voters

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The Florida Bar is distributing its “Guide for Florida Voters” statewide as part of an initiative to educate Florida’s voters about judicial elections.

This year’s ballot will have more than 30 contested county judgeships and 25 contested circuit judgeships, in addition to merit retention votes on 28 district court of appeal judges and three Florida Supreme Court justices.

The Bar has printed 150,000 copies of the “Guide for Florida Voters,” which will be available at supervisor of elections offices throughout the state and through local chapters of the League of Women Voters of Florida. The guide, which answers many questions voters might have about judicial elections, is available to civic groups upon request; email or call 850-561-5834. The Bar also will publish merit retention pamphlets for each district court of appeal and the Supreme Court, with biographical information provided by the judges and justices who will be on the ballot.

The Bar’s “The Vote’s in Your Court” webpage — — is a go-to source for information on judicial elections. There, voters will find English and Spanish versions of the “Guide for Florida Voters” plus links to more information, including the Code of Judicial Conduct and biographies of the judges and justices up for merit retention. This summer, the Bar will add links to its judicial self-disclosure statements and the merit retention poll of Bar members.

On July 11, the Bar will post judicial self-disclosure statements, which have been sent to all candidates for contested county and circuit seats. The 10-page statement includes basic biographical information, legal experience, and community work, as well as a short essay on why the candidate feels he or she would be a good judge. Forms that have been completed by candidates by the deadline will be available at www.floridabar.org/judicialcandidates.

In August, the Bar will send in-state members the 2016 Merit Retention Poll. The poll’s questions seek to find whether attorneys who know the most about the jurists up for retention believe they should continue in their jobs.Results of that poll will be released in early September.

Election dates this year are August 30 and November 8. All county and circuit judicial races appear on the primary ballot, with runoffs in November. The merit retention vote is also in November.