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Keep judges nonpartisan

Ohioans should vote for the best people to serve them in the judiciary, not for the political party they prefer.

The state’s system of nonpartisan elections for judges and state Supreme Court justices is a step in that direction.

Some in the General Assembly think Ohio ought to take a step backward in that regard. They have introduced a bill that would allow judicial candidates to specify their political party affiliations on election ballots, should they choose to do so.

It can be argued that many people who are casting their ballots already know a judge’s political leanings. Indeed, many of those who sit on the bench are active in their local parties, and some even participate in partisan activities at the state level.

Certainly, they are entitled to do all of that. It is a free country, after all, where all people are generally encouraged to participate in our political system. That is how it works best.

At first glance, the bill’s bipartisan support seems to argue in its favor. It is sponsored by state Reps. Stephen Hambley, R-Brunswick and Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood.

But wrong is wrong, regardless of partisanship.

Changing the system would favor Democrats in heavily Democratic areas, Republicans where GOP registration remains higher.

It is that simple.

Legislators should leave the system as it is.

Judges are supposed to be unbiased individuals who consider each case on its own merits. They need to be well versed in the rule of law and in all of the sentencing options and guidelines that apply to each case that comes before them.

They do not need to be classified as liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, in order to perform those duties to the best of their abilities.

Adding party affiliation to ballots would mean that in some cases, the best qualified judges and justices would be passed by.

Is that what we want?

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