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Indiana judicial elections

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Judges in Indiana participate in retention elections, partisan elections or nonpartisan elections. At the supreme and appellate levels, judges are appointed by the governor from a list of three names compiled by a judicial nominating commission. The majority of trial court judges are chosen in partisan elections with the exception of some judges in Vanderburgh, Lake, Allen and St. Joseph counties.[1]

Primary election

In the primary, most candidates for the trial courts compete in partisan elections.

Exceptions are:

Circuit Courts

Superior Courts

  • Superior court candidates in Allen and Vanderburgh counties compete in nonpartisan elections.
  • Judges in Lake and St. Joseph counties are appointed by the Governor and stand for retention two years into service and at the end of subsequent terms.[1]

Unopposed candidates

If there is no contest for a judicial seat in either the primary or general election, the candidates for that seat are not placed on the primary ballot. Candidates who are unopposed in the primary, however, must still appear on the primary ballot if there is any opposition for the seat by any other party.[2]

Marion County Superior Court

Judges are elected to the Marion County Superior Court under a unique state law enacted in 2006 with the goal of reducing the influence of political parties in the judicial selection process.[3] Under this system, judicial candidates seeking party nomination pay a fee to their party to cover campaign costs. Each party then nominates candidates for half of the open judicial seats in the primary. This judicial selection law ensures that Democrats and Republicans never run against each other in the general election and are represented equally on the bench.[4]

General election

Superior court judges in Lake and St. Joseph Counties stand for retention. All other trial court judges compete in contested races.[1][5]

Supreme Court Court of Appeals Circuit Court Superior Court Small Claims Court (Marion County)
Retention election - 10 year terms Retention election - 10 year terms Partisan or Nonpartisan election - Six-year terms Retention or Partisan election - Six-year terms Partisan election - Four-year terms

If a vacancy occurs mid-term on the Indiana Supreme Court or Indiana Court of Appeals, the governor makes an appointment from names supplied by the judicial nominating commission. Vacancies on the circuit and superior courts are filled by direct governor appointment. Appointed judges must then run in the next general election, or the next general election after two years in office for supreme and appellate appointees.[5]


Results are posted on the Indiana Secretary of State website.



See also

External links