Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we elect judges?

We elect judges in Minnesota because that is what our constitution provides. When a vacancy occurs during a judge’s term, the Minnesota Judicial Selection Committee goes through a merit selection process and recommends candidates to the Governor. The Governor then appoints one of the recommended candidates to fill the judicial seat. The appointed judge then must run for election in the next general election that is more than one year after their appointment.

The Minnesota State Constitution also says that judges “shall be elected from the area in which they serve.” That is why all Ramsey County District Court candidates must live in Ramsey County.


Where do judicial candidates appear on the ballot?

On the back, so be sure to Turn the Ballot Over – Vote for Judges!

You can see your sample ballot by going to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office at

What does it mean that judicial elections are “nonpartisan?” 

“The nonpartisan election of judges is a selection method where judges are chosen through elections where they are listed on the ballot without an indication of their political affiliation. If a primary election is held, it is not to narrow the candidates to one from each party. Instead, these primary elections typically narrow the field to two candidates for the general election.”


Why are there no statements on a judge’s personal position on  political or social issues?

While political and social issues may dominate national news headlines, most are rarely encountered in the day-to-day activities of our state court system. An impartial judge’s personal view of these issues is therefore not relevant to performing judicial duties.  For those issues that are pertinent to the legal system, a judge may choose to discuss the topic, even though those discussions will not affect the handling of any individual case.