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Citizen Knowledge and Voting in Judicial Elections

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 73 Issue: 1 Dated: (June-July 1989) Pages: 28-33
N P Lovrich; J C Pierce; C H Sheldon
Date Published
6 pages
Survey data gathered from 1197 registered voters in the Spokane, Wash. metropolitan area formed the basis of an analysis of the characteristics of the judicial electorate, as shown by how voters and nonvoters differ with respect to their knowledge of the courts and public affairs.
The survey was part of a major study of the quality and level of county government services in the area. In each of 10 sections, the survey gathered information on perceptions of the quality and adequacy of services, frequency of contact with the service agency, self-assessed level of knowledge about that area of county government, and actual level of knowledge. Findings suggested that voter knowledge is of primary importance in the dynamics of electorate formation in the nonpartisan primary elections that determine the outcomes of most judicial elections. Voters had accurate perceptions of their own levels of knowledge and their voting participation depended strongly on their actual knowledge of the courts. Thus, judicial electorates are a self-selected group and would benefit from thorough media coverage of judicial election contests. Tables and figure.