The Print Media and Judicial Elections: Some Case Studies from Wisconsin
187 Pages Posted: 1 May 2012
Date Written: Spring 2002
Focusing on print media coverage of the 1999 judicial elections in Wisconsin, this article reports findings of a project that sought to measure the amount and type of information voters have available in judicial elections. Previous studies addressed how much information voters have when they vote in judicial elections, demonstrating that voters know fairly little about candidates for judicial office. Such studies did not, however, answer the central question of whether a sufficient amount of information is available to the average voter who seeks to make a reasonable informed decision in judicial elections. The article begins with background regarding judicial selection in Wisconsin and an explanation of the methodology of the study. The 1999 Wisconsin Supreme Court election, ten contested circuit court elections and the print media coverage of each is then discussed, followed by observations and suggestions for further research. The research shows that while a fair amount of information about judicial candidates is made available to voters, that information seems to lack the educative component needed to overcome general public ignorance that may exist concerning judicial officeholders and judicial elections.
Keywords: judicial selection, judges, Wisconsin, voters, judicial candidate, media, newspaper, information
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