Oklahoma judicial elections

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Appellate judges in Oklahoma participate in retention elections, while judges of the district courts compete in nonpartisan elections. Judicial elections only take place in even-numbered years in Oklahoma.

Supreme Court Court of Criminal Appeals Court of Civil Appeals District Courts
Retention elections - Six-year terms Retention elections - Six-year terms Retention elections - Six-year terms Nonpartisan elections - Four-year terms

District court elections

Judges of the district courts run in nonpartisan elections after four-year terms. If two candidates are competing for one seat, their names will appear on the ballot for the general election. If more than two candidates file for one seat, they will compete in a primary election. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes in the primary election, that candidate is elected and does not need to run in the general election. If no one receives a majority of the votes, the two candidates with the most votes will compete against each other in the general election.[1] Unopposed candidates do not appear on the ballot.[2]

Retention elections

Judges of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Court of Civil Appeals run in retention elections after six-year terms. In these elections, judges do not compete against another candidate, but voters are given a "yes" or "no" choice whether to keep the justice in office for another term. The retention elections are held on general election day.[3]

Filing deadlines

  • Candidates of the district courts must file between the second Wednesday and the following Friday of April on election years.[4]
  • Candidates of the appellate courts must file no less than sixty days before the date of the general election.[5]


  • Candidates of the district court pay a filing fee of $200.[6]
  • Appellate candidates do not pay a fee for filing a declaration of candidacy.[7]


Results for all races can be found on the Oklahoma State Election Board website.


The state's original constitution in 1907 declared the use of partisan elections for judicial candidates. In 1967, two constitutional amendments changed district court elections from partisan to nonpartisan, and supreme court and court of criminal appeals elections from partisan to retention. The court of civil appeals was created in 1968 and used nonpartisan elections until 1987, when it was changed to retention elections.[8]



See also

External links