It’s a move that colleagues statewide applaud, and yet the switch could once again open an age-old debate – Should judges in North Carolina be elected or chosen for the bench based on merit?
That’s been a question people have been asking for years based on the fact that, in all likelihood, voters don’t know much – if anything – about judges on the ballot.
I’ll be honest, and a little shame-faced. Until I started working at Lawyers Weekly, I had no idea who I was voting for. I couldn’t tell you anything about Judge Wynn or list the name of any of the other judges that I ultimately ended up voting for.
Neither did most of the people I know.
“Who’s this person? Their name sounds nice enough.” Fill in the circle.
“I think I’ve heard about this guy on the news.” Never mind what the news story was about.
Fill in the circle.
So when I read an Associated Press article saying that a “rare” instant runoff process may be used to select Wynn’s replacement in November, I just sighed.
It’s yet another electoral process that I’m unfamiliar with. And in a system where there are ridiculous things called hanging chads that can lead to court battles, I really hope that this instant runoff thing doesn’t exacerbate the problem that voters don’t know Judge X from Judge Y.
From what I understand from the article, instant runoff voting works by having voters rank the candidates for the judicial seat in order of preference.
Then there’s this whole process that happens if no candidate receives a majority vote and so on.
How a ranking can possibly mean anything from voters who haven’t done their homework, I don’t know.
Now, instant runoffs will only be necessary if at least three candidates file for the vacant seat.
I confess I’m hoping that the number will stand at two.
- By DIANA SMITH, Staff Writer