Under the Dome

NC House votes to add party labels to Court of Appeals elections

A voter goes to cast her ballot at Millbrook Elementary in Raleigh in November 2014. The state House voted to add party affiliations to the ballot in N.C. Court of Appeals races.
A voter goes to cast her ballot at Millbrook Elementary in Raleigh in November 2014. The state House voted to add party affiliations to the ballot in N.C. Court of Appeals races. cseward@newsobserver.com

The N.C. House voted 70-44 Tuesday to add political party labels to the ballot in N.C. Court of Appeals races.

The races are currently nonpartisan, but political parties typically endorse candidates. The bill does not make the N.C. Court of Appeals election a partisan race where each political party selects one nominee. Any number of candidates from any party may run.

“The reality is in these elected judicial races, people do need information,” said Sen. Rob Bryan, a Charlotte Republican who supported the change. “Parties do have different judicial philosophies, and that matters to voters when they go to vote.”

Rep. Larry Pittman, a Concord Republican, said all races should be partisan.

“I don’t believe in nonpartisan elections,” he said. “It’s like asking the Baptist church to vote on a new pastor, and you don’t tell them if he’s a Baptist or a Buddhist.”

But some Democrats said they worry the labels will make Court of Appeals judges more partisan. “What I think I’m hearing is that many folk in the chamber feel it’s more important to identify with party affiliation than qualifications or merit,” said Rep. Marvin Lucas, a Cumberland County Democrat. “Partisanship belongs to those who are running in the legislative branch.”

The bill has already cleared the Senate and now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory.

  Comments