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The State of Reform
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Georgia's top court ruled Gov. Brian Kemp can appoint a new Supreme Court justice, rather than hold an election.

Kemp's scrapping of a Georgia election was OK, top court says

It turns out Gov. Brian Kemp can cancel an election and fill a vacancy through an appointment — at least in the case of the soon-to-be open seat on the Georgia Supreme Court.

Last week, the court ruled 6-2 that state officials could not be compelled to hold an election for Justice Keith Blackwell's seat after he steps down, so Kemp could go ahead with his appointment.

This move has opened up the Republican governor to more criticism that he'd rather stack the court with another conservative justice than allow Georgia voters to have their say.

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Government Ethics
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A judge ruled this week that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has the authority to appoint someone to fill a judicial vacancy that does not yet exist.

Kemp's judicial election cancellation heads to Georgia appeals court

The two politicians who want to be candidates for the next opening on Georgia's highest court are appealing a judge's ruling that there doesn't have to be an election.

Their trips to the courthouse Wednesday and Thursday are the latest moves in what has rapidly become a flashpoint in the world of good governance: Republican Gov. Brian Kemp's declaration that he, not the voters, will decide how to fill a not-yet-empty seat on the state Supreme Court.

The law seems to have provisions supporting him as well as those desiring the special election the governor has called off. But the reality is that Kemp's motives are under heightened suspicion since he narrowly won the governorship in 2018 amid evidence that, as secretary of state, he was complicit in an array of voter suppression efforts.

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Steven Denny (left) is leading Larry Doss by 319 votes in a Texas judicial race, but the state needs to hold a do-over.

What happens when two Texas counties forget to put a race on the ballot

At a time when confidence in elections is sagging, a particularly odd snafu in Texas this month won't help.

A virtually tied election for a spot on a regional appeals court will have to be conducted again — because officials in two counties under the court's jurisdiction did not put the contest on the ballot.

The election administrators in Cochran and Collingsworth counties, in the rural panhandle of north Texas, both filed papers this week admitting to a shared oversight and insisting they did not intentionally exclude the race from a long roster of federal and state contests March 3.

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Balance of Power

"Why I have to work so hard to get on the ballot for what should already be a nonpartisan position is ridiculous," wrote Tiffany Lesnik, an independent judicial candidate in Raleigh.

Two parties squelch outsiders in N.C. judicial elections

People who aspire to judgeships in North Carolina but don't want to run on a party line are facing strict new rules and tight deadlines.

The tougher burdens, which only apply to non-affiliated candidates, are part of the state's comprehensive return this fall to partisan elections for judges. Good-government groups say that filling the bench this way is hardly the best option for getting the most qualified and fair people administering justice or for instilling public confidence in the court system.

In fact, the Tar Heel State is bucking the trend as many more states have abandoned partisan judicial elections in recent years than have adopted them. This year, North Carolina is among just 11 states picking all their judges this way. All but a handful of the other states have nonpartisan elections or allow voters to retain or dismiss judges first appointed by their governors.

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