The North Carolina Senate on Monday passed legislation that would restore partisan elections for local judicial races, helping ensure North Carolina voters have more information about the candidates they elect.
The bill would bring the election process for Superior and District Court judges into line with the process that is already in place for state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals justices, beginning with the 2018 election cycle. It would also return to the system that was in place for decades prior to the late 1990s and early 2000s, before previous legislatures changed it to prevent voters from using party affiliation to elect judges with a conservative, strict constructionist approach to the constitution.
News reports have highlighted the problems with the current system, which disadvantages voters selecting candidates in lower profile races about which there is little information, in some instances leaving them to make a choice based on name ID and ballot order alone. Voter participation in judicial contests that lack partisan identification is significantly lower than that in other elections.
“Judges have the power to make decisions that impact millions of North Carolinians, and voters deserve to know where they stand on the important issues facing our state,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham.) “That’s why this bill restores a commonsense and straightforward partisan election system that lets voters know who shares their views on the proper role of the judiciary.”