Senate District 18
Jerry C. Cirino
Cirino, Gavarone Introduce Bill to Increase Transparency in Judicial Elections
February 23, 2021

COLUMBUS—State Senators Jerry C. Cirino (R-Kirtland) and Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) today introduced Senate Bill 80, which would require the party affiliation for certain judicial candidates to be listed on a general election ballot.

The bill applies to judicial candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court and Appellate Courts.

"Voters deserve maximum transparency in the election process, and this legislation will help Ohioans have a better understanding of which judicial candidates represent their core values," said Cirino. "While I encourage voters to do in-depth research into all candidates on the ballot, this bill ensures that basic party affiliation is readily available at the polls."

Under current Ohio law, judicial candidates' party affiliation is not designated on the general ballot, which can lead to unnecessary confusion when voters are making their selection at the polls.

“The current judicial electoral system in Ohio is flawed, mainly because we are the only state in the country where judges run in a partisan primary and a non-partisan general election,” Gavarone said. “Voters deserve to have the full picture about candidates on the ballot, and this is just another piece of information they will have to make an informed decision.”

Companion legislation is also being introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives by Representatives D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) and Brian Stewart (R-Ashville).

“According to an Ohio judicial elections survey, one-half said they vote less frequently for judges compared to other offices with a high indication that a party affiliation would be helpful for this voting process,” said Swearingen. “The law already requires judges to run in partisan primaries and they receive endorsements from political parties. I believe it’s time we move forward to assist Ohioans by informing them of the political candidate they may be voting for in future general elections.”

“Our Ohio Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges already run in partisan primaries as ‘Democrats’ and ‘Republicans’. Only on the general election ballot does Ohio pretend these things aren’t happening by omitting their party affiliation and it’s denying voters information about the candidates that they continually tell us they want. House Bill 149 will finally change that by adding party affiliation to the general election ballot for Ohio Supreme Court and appellate judges,” added Stewart.

For more information on Senate Bill 80, click here.
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