Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday vetoed his first bill, one that would restore partisan judicial elections. The bill’s author said the General Assembly would vote to override the new governor’s first veto. The legislation, House Bill 100, would make District Court and Superior Court judicial candidates go through a party primary. Under the bill, general election ballots would include the candidates’ party affiliations. Candidates who aren’t registered with a political party would need to go through a petition process to get their names on the ballot. Superior Court elections were switched from partisan to nonpartisan in 1996, and state leaders made the same change for District Court in 2001.
Cooper’s veto message said judges should be elected based on their experience and ability, not their political party. He said candidates who register unaffiliated to avoid partisan labels have a harder time getting on the ballot because they must obtain signatures from at least 2 percent of the voters in their election districts.
“North Carolina wants its judges to be fair and impartial, and partisan politics has no place on the judges’ bench,” Cooper said. “We need less politics in the courtroom, not more.
“Judges make tough decisions on child abuse, divorce, property disputes, drunk driving, domestic violence and other issues that should be free from politics. This bill reverses that progress.”