North Carolina: bill to return trial court contests to partisan races clears committee; other states moving in opposite direction

The North Carolina House Elections Committee earlier today approved HB 100, a bill to return the state’s trial court (Superior & District) races to partisan. Media reports here. The bill follows laws enacted in the last 2 years to make appellate races (Supreme Court and Court of Appeals) partisan.

As I noted when this issue came up in 2015, the trend in other states has been away from partisan races and towards nonpartisan ones. As recently as 24 hours ago a New Mexico constitutional amendment to move that state from partisan to nonpartisan judicial races cleared a key committee (discussed here).

  • 2015: West Virginia ended partisan elections for all courts via statute discussed here
  • 2000: Arkansas voters approved Amendment 80, a rewrite of the state‚Äôs Judiciary Article, which included nonpartisan elections for all judges.
  • 1994: Mississippi’s legislature enacted the Nonpartisan Judicial Elections Act, moving all judicial races (except Justice of the Peace Court) to nonpartisan.