Judges shouldn’t run in party primaries

Judges and state appellate court justices should be selected without regard to political party affiliation. Ohio has it half right in that respect – but needs to finish the job.

Buckeye State voters are the only ones in the nation who use primary election ballots in which candidates for judge are identified by party, then go to general elections in which party labels are absent.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said last week that the state should do away with party labels for primary elections, too. She made the comment as she unveiled an eight-point plan for improving judicial elections, during the state Bar Association’s annual meeting in Cleveland.

Obviously, any system in which judges and justices are elected involves politics. But the public’s perception of impartiality is affected even more when candidates are identified by party.

Fourteen states already conduct the whole process of judicial elections without identifying candidates’ political party affiliations. O’Connor is right: Ohio should join them.

Complying with the new federal health care law – Obamacare – will cost taxpayers in Ohio hundreds of millions of dollars during the next several years. We should not allow government officials to spend any of it secretly.

That is precisely what seems about to happen in California, however. There, a law has been enacted to set up a state insurance exchange, as required under Obamacare.

According to The Associated Press, the statute gives state government “broad authority to conceal spending on the contractors that will perform most of its functions, potentially shielding the public from seeing how hundreds of millions of dollars are spent.”

Ohio also must have an insurance exchange. Ohio may allow Washington to set up and operate its exchange.

Taxpayers shouldn’t tolerate the sort of secrecy being contemplated in California. That will lead to waste and, in all likelihood, outright fraud.

New health care programs must be operated openly.

Taxpayers should demand it.