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Check yourjudges

Your voting guide for Cook County's 2020 judicial primary elections

Published March 1, 2020

On March 17, 2020 voters in Illinois' Cook County will vote in the primary election. In addition to the well-covered presidential contest and other countywide races, there are 37 judicial vacancies on the ballot this year, including a Supreme Court seat and two Appellate Court seats. With the exception of a few suburban subcircuit contests, winning the Democratic primary amounts to securing the judicial post, as most Democratic candidates will face no Republican opposition in the November general election.

Judges have the power to make decisions about guilt and innocence, to take away someone's freedom, to interpret or overturn state laws, and to correct or perpetuate injustices. Yet there are few places to get information about the people running for judge. That's why we've created this election guide.

For months our team has scoured the public record to collect information about the candidates, their past employment, campaign contributions, and disciplinary records. We have also collected the recommendations of the three major bar associations: the Chicago Bar Association (CBA), the Chicago Council of Lawyers (CCL) and the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA). And we've noted endorsements from labor groups, including the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Fraternal Order of Police, AFSCME, and Personal PAC, a pro-choice group.

Here's everything you need to be an informed voter.

Continue scrolling to create your personal voting guide, or select the following for a searchable list of all the candidates and races:


First, help us find your judicial district

Cook County is divided up into 15 judicial subcircuits. These were created in 1992 to increase minority representation on the bench and lower the barriers to election. Use one of the following methods to find your subcircuit:

Note: You must be at the address where you are registered to vote. Geolocation is not perfectly accurate and may misidentify your district if you are near a district boundary.

Follow this link.

Toggle the layer Political Districts > Judicial District

Cook County judicial districts
No subcircuit selected

Next, review your races and pick your candidates

Click Info to learn more about each candidate. Then, select the candidates you intend to vote for. Your choices will be remembered even if you close your browser.

In the next section you'll be able to create a report with your choices that you can take with you to your polling place. To find your polling place, click here if you live in the City of Chicago or click here if you live in Suburban Cook County.

You have not selected a subcircuit. There may be races relevant to you that are not shown.

Supreme Court races

The Supreme Court is the highest court in Illinois. Its seven justices serve ten-year terms, and three justices are chosen exclusively by Cook County voters. In addition to ruling on cases decided on by the lower courts, the Supreme Court appoints judges to fill vacancies, creates the rules that courts must follow, and oversees attorney licensing and discipline.

Appellate Court races

Appellate Court judges rule on appealed cases originally decided in Circuit Court, via three-judge panels. At least two must agree for the court to issue an opinion. Appellate judges serve ten-year terms.

Circuit Court races

Circuit Court judges are on the front-lines of the justice system. They hear all kinds of cases, from traffic cases to personal injury and from criminal cases to child welfare. In Cook County, there are two kinds of circuit court races, countywide and subcircuit, both of which will appear on your ballot. Only residents of a subcircuit can run for those seats, but once elected, there is no difference between countywide judges and subcircuit judges. Circuit Court judges are elected to six-year terms, after which they must run for retention.

Finally, save a report to take to the polling station

Customize using the options below. When you're ready, select Preview document, and if you're satisfied with the result, save the document to your device.

Note: After you've generated the initial preview, the document will update automatically if you change your candidate choices in the previous section.

Preview will appear here

Do you find our guide useful?

Please share it with your friends, family, and colleagues! Follow our coverage and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #CheckYourJudges.

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Marc Lajoie data journalist and coder, Connor Echols, Milan Rivas, Stender Von Oehsen reporters, Julian Gonzalez, Tyrone Lomax, Maia Rosenfeld, Isaac Slevin, Talia Soglin, Radhika Upadhye, Grace Wade researchers