In a recent speech to the Ohio State Bar Association, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor identified eight areas in which the state’s process for electing judges might be improved. Among the reforms that O’Connor put on the table were the creation of a nominating commission to advise the governor in filling judicial vacancies between elections, the scheduling of judicial elections in odd-numbered years, the lengthening of judicial terms, and the creation of a judicial voter guide. O’Connor encourages public discussion of the reform proposals through a new website, Ohio Courts 2013.
Ohio is not the only state seeing calls for judicial election reform. A former chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court recently encouraged sitting justices to lobby the legislature to adopt the recommendations of an April 2012 task force report, which include the use of a vacancy nominating commission. IAALS’ Quality Judges Initiative has provided information to leaders in both Michigan and Ohio, as well as several other elective states, about the value of a vacancy nominating process as well as resources for establishing such a process.