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WHY SHOULDN'T JUDGES FACE OPEN PRIMARY BY VOTERS?

A Dec. 11 News editorial covered one of the idiosyncrasies of this state's electoral system in expressing the difficulty of ballot access for presidential candidates. There are others.

For all the great publicity given the "Kids Voting" program, someone should be asking if we really have a choice in voting for judges. The judicial cross-endorsement system sweeps away all the supposed party differences. Major party antagonists suddenly become brothers in arms. Voters are given no real choice because judicial candidates who appear on the ballot in November never had to suffer through a September primary.

The judicial convention system should be scrapped and replaced to allow for an open primary. There must be some better way than allowing the political bosses to select those who will wield the powers to overturn statutes enacted by more fully elected legislators.

An obscure takeover of the judicial electoral system was slipped by in a 1977 constitutional amendment vote, where we were deprived of our right to elect justices of the state's Court of Appeals in favor of creating a "commission on judicial nomination."

With these two systems in place, the politics of the judiciary is carefully set out of public view or control. Judges who have final authority over duly enacted legislation are the pawns of unseen political power-brokers. Judges who act too independently do so at risk of offending the system that put them in place.

DONALD G. HOBEL

North Tonawanda

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