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Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Judicial elections and the Supreme Court race

It’s election season in Minnesota, and as a lawyer, you know what that means. At every gathering of family and friends, the conversation inevitably turns to the election, and someone always asks you, “Who are those judges on the ballot? I don’t know anything about them. How should I vote?”

Advising someone how to vote is a weighty responsibility. It is also a great opportunity to empower voters to make informed choices at the polls. This election cycle, there is one statewide constitutional office on the ballot and that is for a seat on our Supreme Court. The MSBA is doing three things to get information out to the public about this race. And we need your help.

First, we have set up a website focusing on the Supreme Court race—VoteMNjudges.org. The website provides:

  • profiles of the two candidates, as stated by the candidates themselves in their responses to MSBA’s candidate questionnaires;
  • the results of MSBA’s plebiscite, taken before the August primary, indicating that 93.77 percent of our members support Justice Hudson, 3.16 percent support Michelle MacDonald, and 3.07 percent support Craig Foss (who was eliminated in the August primary);
  • a link to the Secretary of State’s website, which contains information on polling locations, early voting, and absentee ballots;
  • information about how judges are selected in Minnesota, including the merit selection process and the criteria used for evaluating judges—fairness, integrity, honesty, experience, and temperament.

Second, we are working hard to secure earned media attention for this race. This is tough in a presidential election year, and even tougher considering the number of competitive legislative races we have at the state and federal levels. The goal is to get some coverage of our website and establish the credibility of the MSBA with the public as a source of information about judicial candidates.

Third, we are using Facebook and Twitter to promote our educational website with short informational posts including photos, graphics, and videos every few days between now and Election Day. We hope you will “like” and “share” our posts about the Vote MN Judges website with your social media networks —especially non-lawyers who could benefit from the information.

To make this effort successful, we need your help. The MSBA is very good at connecting with lawyers—that is our job. Connecting directly with the public is not something we usually do. We have over 15,000 members. Each one of our members has a social network. What we do collectively could make a difference.

Minnesotans want to choose their judges but don’t always know how to exercise that choice. They are frustrated. Some don’t vote at all in judicial races because they think it is irresponsible to do so without any information about the candidates. As lawyers, we are representatives of the legal profession. Every time we interact with the public, we have the opportunity to empower people with information about judicial races and candidates. This enhances the ability of our elections to serve as methods of accountability. Every time we interact with the public, we have the opportunity to teach them about the judicial system and how merit selection works, and to build trust and confidence in our courts and the rule of law.

Advising someone how to vote is a weighty respon-sibility. It is also an opportunity. So next time you are asked about judicial candidates and how to vote, please take the opportunity to answer their questions and direct them to our website,
VoteMNjudges.org, and our Facebook page, facebook.com/VoteMNjudges. And don’t forget to vote. Absentee ballots are available at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website (www.sos.state.mn.us), and early voting is already underway.


Robin-Wolpert-HeadshotROBIN M. WOLPERT is a legal strategist, litigator, and appellate lawyer at Sapientia Law Group, where she focuses her practice on complex business litigation, data privacy, constitutional law, and political law compliance. Robin represents clients in litigation involving private parties or the government, parallel civil and criminal proceedings, civil and criminal appeals, and investigations.

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