Tennessee judicial elections

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Tennessee judicial elections come in a few varieties: appellate judges participate in retention elections, while most trial court judges are selected via partisan elections. Judges of the general sessions courts participate in nonpartisan elections.[1] Judicial elections are held in August of even-numbered years, during the statewide primary.[2] Elected judges take office on September 1st.[3]

Supreme Court Court of Appeals Court of Criminal Appeals Chancery Court Criminal Court Circuit Court General Sessions Court
Retention elections - Eight-year terms Retention elections - Eight-year terms Retention elections - Eight-year terms Partisan elections - Eight-year terms Partisan elections - Eight-year terms Partisan elections - Eight-year terms Nonpartisan elections - Eight-year terms

Primary elections

Primary elections may be held for trial court judges. The political parties in each county determine whether or not there will be a primary election in their respective counties.[3]

County primary elections

Counties that are having a primary election will have them on a Tuesday in May. The candidate who wins the county primary election in May will then move on to the county general election in August and run against other party candidates that won their respective primaries.[4]

Primary elections in Tennessee serve to designate a party's nomination and narrows the field down to one candidate from that party for a specific office. A candidate who wins their primary nomination will move on to the general election.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many It is not uncommon for a candidate to run unopposed in their party primary and then go on to run unopposed in the general election as well. Similarly, candidates may win their primary and go on to run unopposed in the general election.[5]

Voters do not need to declare their party affiliation when they register to vote. However, primary voters must declare whether or not they will be voting in the Democratic or Republican primary.[4]

Tennessee plan

In 1994, the Tennessee State Legislature implemented the Tennessee Plan for the judicial selection of appellate judges (judges of the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Tennessee Court of Appeals, and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals) in Tennessee. The Tennessee Plan employs a merit-based selection method for judges, conducted by a Judicial Nominating Commission, followed by retention elections and performance evaluations.[6]


Statewide results are not posted on the Secretary of State's website. Instead, newspapers and county websites must be searched for results.



Judicial performance evaluations

In Tennessee, appellate judges standing for retention must be evaluated by the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. Below are the reports from the last ten years:

See also

External links