ELECTIONS

Why are there judges on my ballot and how can I learn more about them?

Oct 15, 2020, 4:20 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:22 am

Murray Racial profiling...

(Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — As a voter, you may be reading your ballot when you think: Why are there judges on my ballot? The good news: with mail-in ballots going to Utahns starting this week, that means you have time to do your homework about judges while sitting at your kitchen table.

Judges on the Utah ballot

Nearly 60 judges in Utah face voters thumbs’ up or down in the 2020 election.

Utah is one of six states with judicial retention elections during the November general election. These elections only happen in even-numbered years in Utah. It’s rare for voters to reject a judge in a retention election.

Judges on the ballot do not compete against another candidate. Voters are given a yes or no choice about whether to keep the judge on the bench for another term.

Why should I care?

Local judges decide family disputes over contested estates, child custody and adoptions, divorces and crimes.

The Utah Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee (JPEC) gathers and analyzes on a judge’s performance and conducts multi-faceted evaluations of all Utah judges and provides that performance information to voters. 

The Utah Legislature created JPEC in 2008 to help inform voters about judges and their performance. 

JPEC evaluates judges’ performances based on “minimum performance standards,” according to Jennifer Yim, the committee’s executive director. She said it’s common to see most judges on the ballots receive a unanimous vote from JPEC.

Read about judges’ courtroom evaluations: judges.utah.gov

Voters decide whether to retain a judge, but the governor originally appoints them to their positions. When there is a vacancy, the governor picks from a list of five nominees offered by an independent commission. That nominee is then subject to confirmation by the Utah Senate.

Most judges face a retention election every six years, while Utah Supreme Court justices are on the ballot every 10 years. This year, only Justice John A. Pearce is running for re-election to the Utah Supreme Court.

The Utah Constitution states: “Selection of judges shall be based solely upon consideration of fitness for office without regard to any partisan political consideration.”

From the state’s inception in 1896 until 1951, judges participated in partisan elections. But in 1951, legislation changed the process for judges to nonpartisan elections. It was not until 1985 that the state’s judicial elections became unopposed retention elections.

Find more information about candidates and issues in the 2020 election with our Election Guide, here

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Elections

political text messages...

Michael Camit

Dodging political scammers during election year

During elections years, political scammers will target voters to try to get their personal information warns the BBB.

14 days ago

Former President Donald Trump, speaks to reporters as he leaves the courtroom during a lunch break ...

ERIC TUCKER, ALANNA DURKIN RICHER and TERRY SPENCER

Judge rejects Trump’s bid to throw out classified documents case

A federal judge on Thursday rejected a bid by Donald Trump to throw out out his classified documents criminal case.

29 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally Saturda...

JILL COLVIN Associated Press

Trump wins delegates needed to become GOP’s presumptive nominee for third straight election

With wins in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state, Trump surpassed the 1,215-delegate threshold needed to become the presumptive Republican nominee.

1 month ago

President Joe Biden speaks in Columbia, S.C., Jan. 27, 2024....

ZEKE MILLER AP White House Correspondent

President Joe Biden has won enough delegates to clinch the 2024 Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden, clinched a second straight Democratic nomination Tuesday and set up an all-but-certain rematch with Donald Trump

1 month ago

Caucus Republican...

Curt Gresseth

Utah GOP chair addresses Super Tuesday caucus meltdown

The Utah GOP chair acknowledged some caucus meetings saw"challenges" on Super Tuesday, but he said overall things went smoothly.

1 month ago

Republicans gather at Olympus High School in Holladay for caucus meetings on Tuesday, March 5, 2024...

Becky Bruce

Utah GOP party members differ on 2024 caucus turnout

The Utah GOP caucus turnout was three times as high in the 2020 presidential primary than yesterday, a Utah GOP caucus leader said.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Live Nation Concerts

Artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Why are there judges on my ballot and how can I learn more about them?