How to Research Judges on Your Ballot in the Illinois Primary – NBC Chicago

Some of the names on your ballot this election are judges, who are elected from specific districts or circuits, not statewide, so the judges you vote for will be different based on where you live.

This year, there are two vacancies on the Illinois Supreme Court. In the Second District (which includes Lake, McHenry, DeKalb, Kane and Kendall counties), there are four candidates running in the Republican primary and three on the Democratic ballot. For the Third District (which includes DuPage, Will, Kankakee, Iroquois, Grundy, LaSalle and Bureau counties), there is just one candidate for each party, both guaranteed to win their respective primaries and compete against one another for the vacancy in the November general election.

For a complete guide to voting in the 2022 Illinois Primary click here.

On the Illinois Appellate Court, there are five vacancies: two in the First District, which is Cook County alone, and one each in the Second, Third and downstate Fifth districts.

Then there’s Illinois’ circuit court system. The state has 24 judicial circuits, six of which are a single county: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will. The circuit courts deal with millions of legal cases every year, on everything from crime to civil lawsuits, divorce, adoption, eviction, traffic tickets, workers’ compensation, wills and more.

There are two types of judges in Illinois’ circuit court system: circuit judges, who are elected by voters for a six-year term and then up for a retention vote for each term thereafter, and associate judges, who are appointed by other judges.

In Cook County, two-thirds of the roughly 400 judges are elected – either countywide or on a subcircuit, which is a particular portion of the county, similar to a district. This primary cycle, there are 27 vacancies in the Cook County Circuit Court that are on the ballot: 10 countywide and 17 in subcircuits.

Of the nearly 50 other circuit court vacancies on primary ballots in Illinois outside Cook County this election, about 12 are competitive, with more than one candidate.

There are plenty of resources to help you decide who to vote for and who to retain, including evaluations of each judge by several local bar associations (organizations made up of attorneys). You can find those recommendations on judges’ qualifications from organizations like the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Illinois State Bar Association, among several others, on

For a more in-depth analysis of just Cook County, Injustice Watch has compiled information on each candidate, including their backgrounds, any controversies, ratings, fundraising and more.

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