10/28/04 — Fine service: Pamphlets introduce judicial candidates

View Archive

Fine service: Pamphlets introduce judicial candidates

For years North Carolina voters have gone to the polls and found themselves at a total loss when trying to select from among candidates for judicial office.

“I don’t know any of these candidates or anything about them!” That has been a familiar lament at every polling place.

North Carolina made things a bit easier by letting citizens choose their Superior Court judges at the district levels.

But things could have been made more difficult when state lawmakers decreed that candidates for judicial office beginning this year would run on a non-partisan basis. There had been some political concern — justifiably — that most of the state’s voters tended to cast ballots for Republican candidates for judgeships since they probably were regarded as being more conservative.

And, indeed, Republicans today dominate our judicial system at the higher levels.

This year, thanks to a new state law and the efforts of the State Board of Elections, voters have a far better opportunity to get to know something about the candidates.

This is particularly important since there can be no “straight party ticket” votes cast for judicial candidates. Votes for appellate court candidates must be cast individually.

A 16-page pamphlet has been prepared to introduce citizens across the state to all candidates running for the N.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

Two seats will be filled on the Supreme Court and three on the Court of Appeals.

Only two candidates are offering for Seat One on the Supreme Court. But eight are on the ballot for Seat Two.

Three seats are up for grabs on the Court of Appeals with two candidates for each seat.

Almost four million of the pamphlets have been mailed to households across the state. They give a biographical summary of each candidate, along with a statement — and a photograph.

While the candidates aren’t identified by party affiliation, some hints do exist. For example, in the race for Seat Two on the Supreme Court, there are eight candidates. Candidate Paul Newby’s statement concludes with: “I am the only candidate in this race who has been endorsed by the Republican Party.”

Some of the candidates also list Web sites where voters can learn more about them.

In addition to introducing voters to the candidates, the pamphlets offer other important information citizens will find helpful.

The material was provided by funds from the $3 check-off on state income tax forms and from private donations.

It is a great public service, and citizens are encouraged to study information about the candidates before going to the polls.

Published in Editorials on October 28, 2004 11:34 AM