Non-partisan Judicial Elections

In a non-partisan election, candidates do not run a belonging to any political party and are listed on the ballot without any identifiable party affiliation. Many US states use a non-partisan system for the election of judges, district attorneys and other public officials.

Thirteen states choose their state Supreme Court justices in entirely non-partisan elections. Fifteen states hold non-partisan elections for appellate judges. Twenty-two states participate in non-partisan elections for trial court judges.

  •     Arkansas
  •     Georgia
  •     Idaho
  •     Kentucky
  •     Michigan
  •     Minnesota
  •     Mississippi
  •     Montana
  •     Nevada
  •     North Carolina
  •     North Dakota
  •     Ohio
  •     Oregon
  •     Washington
  •     Wisconsin

non partisan electionsEighteen states hold non-partisan elections for trial court positions. They include:

  •     Arkansas
  •     California
  •     Florida
  •     Idaho
  •     Kentucky
  •     Maryland (partisan primaries)
  •     Michigan
  •     Minnesota
  •     Mississippi
  •     Nevada
  •     North Carolina
  •     North Dakota
  •     Ohio (partisan primaries)
  •     Oklahoma
  •     Oregon
  •     South Dakota
  •     Washington
  •     Wisconsin

In four states, there are exceptions non-partisan trial court elections:

  • Arizona: Judges of the Superior Court in counties with populations exceeding 250,000 are appointed. This currently includes Maricopa, Pima and Pinal Counties.
  • Georgia: Judges of the Probate Courts compete in partisan elections.
  • Indiana: Some circuit court judges participate in non-partisan elections.
  • Maryland and Ohio: Partisan primaries and non-partisan general elections.

Non-partisan in name only?

Although some elections may be officially nonpartisan, the party affiliations of candidates are generally known or can be surmised by the groups endorsing a particular candidate.

Some argue that partisan politics have no place in judicial races, and that they have led to more campaign contributions and an increased partisanship among judges. In six states that hold partisan elections, Republican justices outnumber Democratic justices nearly two-to-one.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonpartisanism
https://judgepedia.org/Non-partisan_election_of_judges