New Mexico Amendment 3: 17 out of 20 states that use retention elections have different filing deadlines for judges & others; few states put filing deadline for judges in state constitution

New Mexico voters in 1988 established the present electoral system for the highest courts in the state (supreme court, court of appeals, district, and metropolitan) that combines both merit/commission appointment AND partisan elections AND retention elections. (A subsequent amendment in 1994 set the threshold for retention at 57% “yes” votes).

That 1988 amendment included a provision that specified, in detail, when a judge seeking to be retained in office had to file the paperwork in order to do so.

The date for filing a declaration of candidacy for retention of office shall be the same as that for filing a declaration of candidacy in a primary election.

This direct linkage of the date to file for judicial retention as equal and the same as that for primaries is unique in New Mexico for two reasons.

  • First, of the 20 states that use some form of retention election, only 6 (New Mexico, plus Arizona, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Wyoming) put the filing deadline into the state’s constitution.
  • Second, of those 20 states, only two have the same direct link between the primary filing deadline and the judicial retention deadline as in New Mexico, but in both cases there are special reasons for why.
    • Montana links the primary filing deadline with retention election deadline because of its unique hybrid system for the state’s supreme court. If an incumbent justice is challenged, the contest proceeds as any other contested election. If the incumbent justice is the lone filer (i.e. uncontested), he or she nevertheless must face a yes/no retention election in November.
    • Tennessee’s retention elections occur on what amounts to primary day therefore the deadlines are linked for that reason. For example this year the retention race took place on August 5.

Details below the fold.

State Judges to File for Retention State Elected Officials to File Candidacy How Judicial Retention Date is Computed Judicial retention filing linked to filing date for primary?
Alaska 8/1/2014 6/2/2014 Date specified in statute as August 1 (AS 15.35.040) No
Arizona 9/5/2014 Major parties and Independents: 5/28/2014
Write-in candidate: 9/25/14
Period of time specified in constitution as “not less than sixty nor more than ninety days prior to the regular general election” (Art VI, Sec. 38A) No
California 8/15/2014 3/7/2014 Period of time specified in constitution as “Within 30 days before August 16 preceding the expiration of the judge’s term” (Art. VI, Sec. 16 No
Colorado 8/4/2014 Major and Minor Parties: 3/31/2014
Write-In Candidate: 4/18/14 (Primary) & 7/17/14 (General)
Unaffiliated Candidate: 7/10/14
Period of time specified in constitution as: “not more than six months nor less than three months prior to the general election” (Art. VI, Sec. 25) No
Florida 5/2/2014 6/20/2014 Period of time specified in statute as “no earlier than noon of the 120th day, and no later than noon of the 116th day, before the primary election.” (F.S. 105.031) No
Illinois 5/4/2014 6/23/2014 Date specified in statute as “not less than 6 months before the general election” (10 ILCS 5/7A-1) No
Indiana 7/15/2014 Major Parties: 2/7/2014
Minor Parties & Independent Candidates: 7/15/14
Date specified in statute as July 15 (IC 33-24-2-2) Same day as minor party, but coincidence and not linked.
Iowa 7/23/2014 8/15/2014 Period of time specified in statute as “at least one hundred four days before the judicial election” (Iowa Code 46.20) No
Kansas 8/4/2014 6/2/2014 Date specified in statute as “the Monday preceding the first Tuesday of August” (KSA 20-2908) No
Maryland 8/4/2014 Principal party candidates: 2/25/2014
Petition candidates & non-principal party candidates: 8/4/14
Date specified in statute as “first Monday in August in the year of the general election for the office” (Md. Election Law §5–703) No, but same date as filing for general election ballot.
Missouri 8/19/2014 3/25/2014 Time period specified in statute as “the opening filing date shall be 8:00 a.m., the sixteenth Tuesday prior to the election…If the closing date for filing a declaration of candidacy for any office in a political subdivision or special district is not required by law or charter, the closing filing date shall be 5:00 p.m., the eleventh Tuesday prior to the election.” (§ 115.127 R.S.Mo.) No, same date as filing for general election ballot.
Montana 3/10/14 Independent & Minor Parties: 6/2/14
Other Candidates: 3/10/14
Write-in candidates: 9/26/14
Time period specified in statute as “no sooner than 145 days before the election in which the office first appears on the ballot and no later than 5 p.m., 85 days before the date of the primary election.” (MCA 13-10-201(7b)) Yes, same date as filing for primary election ballot. If judge faces no opposition, retention election is held.
Nebraska 8/1/2014 Incumbents: 2/18/14
Non-incumbents: 3/3/14
Independents: 9/2/14
Date specified in statute as “on or before August 1” (NE Code §24-814 No
Oklahoma 9/5/2014 4/11/2014 Date specified in statute as “not less than sixty (60) days before the date of such General Election” (O.S. 26-11-101 & 26-11-102) No
Pennsylvania 1/7/13 (latest election; judicial elections conducted in odd-numbered years) Major political parties: 3/11/2014
Minor political parties: 8/1/14
Date specified in constitution as “on or before the first Monday of January of the year preceding the year in which his term of office expires.” (Art. V, Sec. 15 (b)) No
South Dakota 8/5/2014 Established parties & new parties: 3/25/14
Independent: 4/29/14
Date specified by Board of Election Administrative Rule “By the first Tuesday in August, an incumbent justice of the Supreme Court shall request the secretary of state to place the justice’s name on the Supreme Court justice retention ballot.” (ARSD 5:02:06:03.02; Administrative Rule authorized by statute SDCL 16-1-2.2) No
Tennessee 4/3/14 (Judicial election is August 7) Parties & Independent Candidates: 4/3/2014 (for all elections)
Write-in candidates: 6/18/14 (for August election) & 9/15/14 (for November election)
Date specified in statute as “no later than twelve o’clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the first Thursday in April.” (TCA 2-5-101(a)) Yes, same date as filing for primary election ballot, however election is on “primary” day.
Utah 4/15/2014 Registered Political Party Candidates participating in primary: 4/28/2014
Registered Political party candidates not participating in primary: 5/30/2014
Write-in candidates: 9/5/14
Time period specified in statute as “beginning on April 1 and ending at 5 p.m. on April 15 in the year of a regular general election” (Utah Code 20A-12-201) No
Wyoming 8/4/2014 Parties: 5/30/2014
Independent: 8/25/14
Time period specified in constitution as “not more than 6 months nor less than 3 months before the general election” (Art. 5, Sec. 4(h) No