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Like it or not, partisanship is part of decision making for judge races

Dear Editor:

I recently read editorial opinions from a newspaper based in the Piedmont TRIAD and one based on the coast dealing with partisanship in the races for District and Superior Court judges. As I read the opinions the main thought that came to mind was just how naïve are the members of these newspaper's editorial boards.

Even though North Carolina law attempted to remove partisanship from judgeship races, the partisan was still there and in full force. We have one party that goes door-to-door with a completed sample ballot instructing people how to vote. Yes, their sample ballot has all the judges of their party marked as instructions for the voter or voters. The other party does not go door-to-door with a prepared sample ballot but they have a list identifying the judges of their party available for the asking.

The majority of voters in North Carolina have little to no knowledge of who the candidates for District and Superior Court judgeships are. Most voters get what little knowledge they have about a candidate for a judgeship from television ads and from mailings. Because of lack of funds both TV ads and mailing forms of informing the public are far short of what is necessary to have a well-informed voting population.

When most voters vote, they vote for those they know about, have knowledge about, or they vote along party lines. With one party going door-to-door the partisanship and party line voting is in play.

During the last election most of the voters I talked to who knew nothing about the candidates for District and Superior Court judges voted for the first name on the ballot in a particular judge's contest. If the judge had been identified by party the voter would have had at least some basic knowledge of what the judge's ideological stance was instead of voting blindly for someone. Without the candidate's party affiliation listed on the ballot they have no understanding of what ideological viewpoint the candidate is coming from.

Many complain about large amounts of funding flowing into the judgeship races if they become partisan. Is a large amount of funding really a problem? I see more funding providing more and better education for the voter. Today because of lack of funding many voters have little knowledge of the candidates for a judgeship. With more funding the candidates can better educate the voting public.

Just how naïve are those who oppose listing the party of the candidate running for a judgeship? Partisanship is here today but it is not here enough to properly inform the voting public. It is essential that the voters receive as much information as possible before they make their final decision as whom to vote for and part of that decision is party affiliation!

In our judgeship races it is time we had a well-informed voting public rather that the ill-informed or uninformed voting public that we have today. The General Assembly's overriding of the Governor's veto was the right thing to do!

Ray Shamlin
Rocky Mount


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