Under the Dome

Public financing for judges popular according to poll by GOP firm

A Republican-leaning polling firm has found strong support continuing public financing of judicial races in North Carolina.

Sixty-eight percent of those interviewed said they would be less likely likely to support a state legislator who “supported an electorate system where money would have a greater role in judicial elections,'' according to a survey by The Tarrance Group, which has worked for numerous GOP candidates including Sen. Jesse Helms.

The poll found that 70 percent were more likely to support public financing of judicial elections when they learn that it “has allowed women and minorities who don't have access to rich donors to compete and win seats on the court. In particular, 67 percent of GOP women were more likely to support the message, according to the poll.

The survey found that 61 percent were more likely to be supportive of public financing when they hear that “the current system should remain in place because even the hint of bribery is too much in in our judicial system.''

The poll was conducted for North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, The Piper Fund, and Justice at Stake. It surveyed 700 registered voters between May 6-8 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

The spin: “this confirms what we knew all along, which is that voters in North Carolina get it,” aid Melissa Price, director of North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections.

“They know that the programs has meant more opportunities for talented women and minorities to get on the bench, and they that doing away with it means the voices of ordinary people would be drowned out in the judicial election by special interest and political parties.''

The poll comes at a time when the GOP-led legislature is considering repealing the 10-year system of public financing for high-court judicial races.

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