David Yates Jan. 21, 2014, 6:18pm

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - The Texas Civil Justice League has launched a statewide voter education effort, hoping to increase awareness about the importance of electing qualified judges.

TCJL announced the statewide advocacy campaign on Monday.

According to a press release, the organization, which says it advocates for a fair and balanced judicial system in Texas, will seek to increase voter participation in judicial races.

"Many Texans don't understand how important it is to educate themselves on the qualifications of those who run in judicial races so that they can vote for the most qualified candidates," said John Fainter, chair of the TCJL board of directors.

"In reality, a judge can have a major, direct influence on a citizen - perhaps more than any other elected official - including making decisions that impact a person's home, family, job and their very freedom."

The campaign will initially focus on the coming March primaries and will include efforts to educate Texans about the importance of judicial races in addition to providing information about the various candidates who are running in statewide judicial races.

"I applaud the Texas Civil Justice League for their efforts to raise the profile of statewide judicial races," former Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill said.

"Texans are fortunate to be able to elect the best qualified candidates in judicial races, but with that opportunity comes the responsibility of educating themselves about the candidates. This campaign will be a major step toward achieving that goal."

Voter participation drops significantly for judicial races compared to other higher-profile races.

For example, in the 2012 general election, 58.6 percent of registered Texas voters voted for a presidential candidate, but only 44 percent voted for a candidate in the judicial race for the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 8, states the press release.

For more information about judicial races in Texas, visit www.texasjudges.org, a TCJL website that provides information about the state's judicial system and candidates running in judicial races.

From Legal Newsline: Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com.

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