Frequently Asked Questions
We ELECT our judges in Minnesota? Why do we do that?
Judges in Minnesota participate in nonpartisan elections in even-numbered years.
Minnesota is one of 21 states that have nonpartisan or partisan judicial elections. There are also 17 states with judicial retention elections at some or all levels of state courts and three states with partisan judicial elections followed by retention elections.
What does it mean for an election to be “non-partisan?
A nonpartisan election is one where, if a primary is held, it is not for the purpose of narrowing the candidates to one from each party; rather, the top two candidates, regardless of party, typically advance to the general election. At both the primary and general elections, the candidates are listed on the ballot without necessarily designating any party affiliation.
There are minor differences in how these elections are conducted from state to state, mostly regarding what happens in the months before election day.
Where do the judicial candidates appear on my voting ballot?
Candidates for judicial posts typically appear on the back of your voting ballot, and are therefore easy to miss.
Turn your ballot over to the reverse side, and fill in the ovals for your preferred candidate just as you would do for president, senator, congressperson, state legislator, etc.
Voting for judges seems strange, and I don’t know for whom to vote. I feel like I might be guessing. What should I do?
Visit the Minnesota Secretary of State Website to see a sample ballot for the upcoming election: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/whats-on-my-ballot
As you review candidate names, search for websites that tell you more about the judicial candidates and their reasons for running. Review their stories and endorsements, and look for linked content from those sites. Also consider following candidates of interest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get a feel for how a judicial candidate thinks and feels about issues related to justice today.
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Minnesotans for Justice Paul Thissen