TALLAHASSEE – Florida law requires Florida Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges to be placed on the ballot in nonpartisan elections every six years for voters to re-elect them or not, and this year, there will be 31 such options on the ballot.
There will be three Supreme Court justices and 28 appeals court judges on the ballot for the upcoming election.
As part of the election process, the Florida Bar asks its members to share their opinions on the judges up for retention.
“Every two years, Florida’s voters are asked whether the justices and the district courts of appeal judges up for retention deserve another six-year term, and the bar’s merit retention poll assists the public with the process,” according to the Florida Bar Foundation website. “Ballots will be mailed Aug. 15, and in-state members in good standing can complete the poll online or return the paper version of the poll by mail. Instructions for voting online will accompany the ballots.”
Results of the bar poll will be shared via a news release on Sept. 9.
“They (the judges) are not running against opponents or each other,” the foundation said on its website. “Merit retention elections are nonpartisan. In nonpartisan elections, candidates appear on the ballot without reference to any political party. Florida law requires judicial elections to be nonpartisan in order to preserve impartiality.”
The way the law is supposed to work is that initially, the governor appoints judges or justices from lists submitted by judicial nominating commissions, which screen candidates and make recommendations based on their merits.
“Newly appointed judges go on the ballot for the first time within two years after appointment,” the foundation said on its website. “If the voters retain them, they then go on the ballot again every six years.”
The Florida Supreme Court and the five District Courts of Appeal (DCA) are subject to merit retention elections and three Florida Supreme Court justices and 28 DCA judges will be on the merit retention ballot Nov. 8, and in-state members of The Florida Bar soon will be able to submit their opinions of all judges up for retention.
“We all have a vital interest in attracting and retaining judges with the highest qualifications to ensure that our courts have the confidence and respect of Floridians and the bar,” Bar President Bill Schifino Jr. said in a statement.