February 27, 2009
Preference Poll Study Group Reaches Decision
The Columbus Bar Board of Governors convened a group of members to study and discuss the future of the Judicial Preference Poll. The letter that accompanied the Judicial Preference Polls in past years stated, “We ask that you do not vote if you do not have sufficient knowledge or information about the candidates to evaluate them. We also ask that attorneys within each firm or office exercise independent judgment in voting and discourage any efforts at block voting for or against any candidate.” The purpose of this language was to discourage candidates or their supporters from lobbying for votes from attorneys not familiar with the judicial candidates.
This past fall concerns were raised about the degree to which widespread email lobbying might have influenced attorney votes and the results of the 2009 poll. Because of this concern, the CBA did not publish the results of the 2008 Preference Poll. The charge of the group was to determine the likelihood of similar lobbying efforts in the future and whether the Preference Poll should be discontinued or continued in some different form.
As explained by Columbus Bar president, Kathleen Trafford, "The CBA board was concerned that we not tell the public that the poll reports the independent preference of attorneys familiar with the candidates, if that is not accurate. Once we observed the intense lobbying this fall, we had to conclude the poll was no longer what we represented it to be. We could either scrap the poll or accept that it is going to be something different going forward."
The Preference Poll Study Group met February 6 and was attended by Sandy Anderson, Belinda Barnes, Judge Carrie Glaeden, Kevin McDermott, Hon. Guy Reece, Judge Charles Schneider, Kathleen Trafford, Sam Weiner, and Alex Lagusch and Kathy Wiesman from the Columbus Bar. After discussion, the study group recommended that the Columbus Bar continue the Preference Poll without limits on lobbying and allow candidates to include a picture and a 50 word bio with the ballot. The public description of the poll will no longer suggest it is preference of those attorneys who have particular knowledge of, or experience with, the candidates. The 2009 Preference Poll will be conducted through electronic voting and will be open to all Franklin County lawyers.