- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Latest on debate in the North Carolina House that would make more judgeships subject to partisan elections (all times local):

3:25 p.m.

A bill to return local court judgeships to the list of North Carolina elected officials chosen in officially partisan races has cleared one General Assembly chamber.

The legislation for District Court and Superior Court races passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 65-51. While the measure was sponsored by Republicans, six GOP legislators joined nearly all Democrats in voting no.

Republicans already approved a law in December making partisan again races for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals starting in 2018.



Partisan races mean a candidate runs in party primaries and the nominee’s party label is on the ballot. Supporters of Wednesday’s bill say the label gives voters important information for races they know little about. Nonpartisan races for judicial seats started 20 years ago. Democrats argue nonpartisan race have helped limit the influence of politics on the bench.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

___

4:40 a.m.

Some Republicans are set on returning all North Carolina state judicial elections to being officially partisan races again.

A law quickly approved in December during a special election directed statewide races for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to become partisan starting in 2018. Now the state House scheduled floor debate Wednesday on legislation extending that to local Superior Court and District Court seats next year, too.

Having partisan races means candidates run in party primaries to reach the general election. Unaffiliated candidates could still run but would have to collect signatures to qualify.

Judicial races shifted to nonpartisan elections starting in the mid-1990s in part as an effort to distance judicial candidates from politics. But Republicans today say party labels help give voters some information about the candidates.

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