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Unopposed races and the practice of post-dating judicial resignations to block elections highlighted questions about the role of democracy in Florida's circuit and county judicial seats in the 2016 election cycle. Only the 60 opposed seats out of the total 252 seats up for election on these courts saw a vote on August 30, 2016. All unopposed candidates were automatically elected without ever appearing on a ballot or facing a public vote.
Three judges used advance notice of their resignations to serve almost the entirety of their elected terms before leaving the bench, which effectively blocked the election of their successors.
See also: Florida judicial elections
Florida is one of 42 states that hold elections for judicial positions. To learn more about judicial selection in Florida, click here. Click on the links below to read detailed election coverage by year.
See also: Nonpartisan elections
There are 597 judges on the Florida Circuit Court, each elected via nonpartisan elections. They serve six-year terms, after which they must run for re-election if they wish to retain their seat.
The chief judge is selected by peer vote and serves in that capacity for two years.
To serve on this court, a judge must be:
a qualified elector;
a state resident;
admitted to practice law in the state for five years; and
under the age of 70 (retirement at 70 is mandatory).
The primary is held 12 weeks before the general election. To get on the ballot, candidates for judicial office are required to obtain signatures equal to at least one percent of the number of registered electors in the geographic boundary of the district Trial court judicial candidates compete in nonpartisan primaries designed to narrow the field to two candidates for the general election. Candidates who receive a simple majority (fifty percent plus one vote) of the vote in the primary are considered winners and are not on the ballot in the general election unless a write-in candidate qualifies for the same office.
In the general election, appellate court judges stand for retention and trial court candidates compete in nonpartisan elections. Partisan organizations and political parties are forbidden from endorsing, supporting, or opposing candidates for office.
Retention elections for appellate judges ask voters a "yes" or "no" question of whether or not to retain a judge to another term. The judges do not face competition on the ballot. If a majority of votes are in favor of a particular judge, that judge will be retained to a new term.
Unopposed candidates for the circuit and county courts do not appear on any ballot and are considered elected following the general election.
The above information and links were compiled from Ballotpedia.org. Text on Ballotpedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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