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Don’t Use Party Labels for Judges

May 11, 2013
By THE INTELLIGENCER , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Judges and state appellate court justices should be selected without regard to political party affiliation. Ohio has it half right in that respect - but needs to finish the job.

Buckeye State voters are the only ones in the nation who use primary election ballots in which candidates for judge are identified by party, then go to general elections in which party labels are absent.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said this week that the state should do away with party labels for primary elections, too. She made the comment as she unveiled an eight-point plan for improving judicial elections, during the state Bar Association's annual meeting in Cleveland.

Obviously, any system in which judges and justices are elected involves politics. But the public's perception of impartiality is affected even more when candidates are identified by party.

Fourteen states already conduct the whole process of judicial elections without identifying candidates' political party affiliations. O'Connor is right: Ohio should join them.

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