November 20, 2009

Elon Poll: North Carolinians show continued support for direct election of judges

Citizens are wary of political appointments in North Carolina’s judicial selection process, with 69 percent of respondents in the latest Elon University Poll indicating their support for continuing direct election of judges to their positions.

The poll, conducted Nov. 16-19, surveyed 563 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones.

Fewer than one in 10 respondents indicated they were “very familiar” with the way judges are currently selected through elections. Forty-three percent said they are “not at all familiar” with the way North Carolinians currently select judges.

Twenty percent of respondents would favor changes to the system requiring potential judges to go through an appointment selection process. Three in four North Carolinians disagree that appointing judges is better than electing them.

When presented with the option of appointment by an independent commission, not by the governor or the state legislature, nearly half of respondents (49 percent) agreed with the means of selection. Forty-one percent of respondents oppose it.

“While North Carolinians seem content with electing judges, there is some indication they may be amenable to changing the judicial selection process if politics are taken out of the process,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “Citizens are quite adamant about wanting politics out of courtrooms across North Carolina.”

Taxes and Government and Community Services

The Elon Poll asked respondents their opinions on the fairness of the current tax system as the local and state levels, as well as their measurements of community services.

How fair is our current tax system at the state level?
Not at all fair: 21 percent
Not too fair: 27 percent
Fair: 41 percent
Very fair: 2 percent

How fair is our current tax system at the local level?
Not at all fair: 18 percent
Not too fair: 24 percent
Fair: 48 percent
Very fair: 3 percent

On the fairness of specific taxes:
Gas tax: 64 percent say “not fair” or “not at all fair”
Tobacco tax: 33 percent say “not fair” or “not at all fair”
Retails sales tax: 29 percent say “not fair” or “not at all fair”
Alcoholic beverage tax: 24 percent say “not fair” or “not at all fair”

On government and community services:
Fire department: 81 percent report feeling “good” or “very good” about local services
Libraries: 74 percent report feeling “good” or “very good” about local services
Garbage collection: 64 percent report feeling “good” or “very good” about local services

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Property tax rates: 47 percent report feeling “bad” or “very bad” about the rates
Economic health of community: 40 percent report feeling “bad” or “very bad” about economic health
Road maintenance and repair: 35 percent report feeling “bad” or “very bad” about local services