Sarah Kate Purnell
On the morning of Oct. 17, House Republicans overturned Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto to Senate Bill 656, canceling the 2018 judicial primaries. The passing of the bill will postpone judicial primary filing from February to June.
“Most of the bill deals with easing ballot access requirements for third parties as well as for unaffiliated candidates,” Laura Leslie at WRAL reported. “It also lowers the threshold for primary candidate to win his or her party’s nomination from 40 percent of the primary vote to 30 percent.”
According to the News & Observer, at least 60 percent of the legislators in each chamber voted to overturn Cooper’s veto. Additionally, House Republicans report that by delaying the primaries, it will allot them more time to implement House Bill 717 to redraw judicial election boundaries.
During the Senate’s vote to overturn Cooper’s veto on Monday night, two Republicans voted no.
“No one in this chamber is being honest about why those primaries will be eliminated,” he stated on the Senate floor according to Boughton at NC Policy Watch.
“It makes no sense to have candidates file in February for primaries when their districts may change,” House Republican David Lewis stated in a WRAL article.
The cancellation of the judicial primaries will also apply to the 2018 Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
“The legislature is angry that their bad laws continue to be overturned by the courts and their solution to abolish a scheduled election and once again take away voter’s rights is wrong,” Gov. Cooper said in a statement regarding Tuesday’s decision. “This is the first step toward a constitutional amendment that will rig the system by moving to partisan, legislative selection of judges. Allowing legislators to pick their own judges for political reasons is a bad idea.”
Darren Jackson, House Minority Leader, fears that the ballots will be too long, according to WRAL. Jackson compared the situation to a previous election when there were 15 to 20 members extending the ballots by numerous pages.
“During the debate, House Democrats said canceling the judicial primaries and delaying judicial candidate filing was premature and would lead to chaos in judicial election in November 2018 because there would be no limit to the number of people who could run for a seat,” reported the News & Observer.
Sponsor Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, told the House Committee that the delay in the judicial elections were due to the amount of time needed towards redrawing district lines.
While many Democrats have issued the need to redraw district lines, many have opposed the implementation of Senate Bill 656 as the solution.
“This bill makes a mockery of the selection process for members of the judicial branch,” Rep. Joe John, a Wake County Democrat and former Court of Appeals judge stated with the News & Observer. “How many voters will skip all judicial elections when they see a multiplicity of unfamiliar names?”