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Many May 8 primary ballots will include district attorney races. The only candidates on the primary ballot will be for partisan races with more than one candidate per party standing for election. But, if there are only candidates for one party standing, then the primary is the only chance to register your preferences for a candidate. Find out if there's a May 8 DA election in your county by going to Vote411, entering your address, then clicking "on your ballot" and following prompts. If there is, you'll see links to candidate's campaign websites and their answers to several relevant questions.

So what do district attorneys do? District attorneys or DAs represent the state in criminal and some juvenile matters. Their primary responsibility is to prosecute criminal cases filed in Superior and District Courts and provide advice to local police. So far, so simple, but activist Shaun King has described DAs as "the gatekeepers of America's justice system", adding that "No position in America, no single individual has a bigger impact on the criminal justice system ― including police brutality, but the whole crisis of mass incarceration in general ― than your local district attorney." District attorneys set priorities for criminal justice, including making decisions about whether police officers get charged for possible crimes they commit and making decisions about plea bargains for those who have been charged with a crime.

It is a role that has come under increased scrutiny following the publication of Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness", and more recently with the founding of Shaun King's PAC, Real Justice. Follow the links above to find out more about the candidates running where you live!

Further information:

Real Justice PAC

Huffington Post: Black Activist Starts Group That Aims To Elect Progressive Prosecutors

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