A little-noticed bill passed by lawmakers last month could have a big impact on the race for North Carolina’s Supreme Court. The bill, now law, will put Democrat Anita Earls’ name last on the ballot for the court contest. It would have come first under the old law. Studies have shown ballot order favors the candidate listed first, and could make a difference in a close race. That change comes on the heels of another new law that puts all judicial races — including the Supreme Court — at the bottom of the ballot behind other races. “It’s clearly done in the hopes of Republicans that ballot fatigue will kick in, and that will result in a drop-off of votes for those offices at the bottom of the ballot,” said Wayne Goodwin, the state Democratic chairman.
“That’s the same rhetoric we always hear,” said Republican Sen. Ralph Hise, who chairs the Senate Elections Committee. “This was done to take the partisanship out of ballot order.”
The Supreme Court race is North Carolina’s highest-profile statewide contest. Earls is running against incumbent Republican Barbara Jackson and Raleigh Republican Chris Anglin. Many Republicans consider Anglin, who until mid-June was a Democrat, a plant intended to dilute the GOP vote.