Judges – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Court, Tax Court
The Primary is functionally a general election. Candidates who received more than 50% of the votes cast in their respective May elections are elected. Races without a candidate receiving a majority advance to the General Election. When a vacancy occurs and no more than two candidates file, the unexpired term automatically advances to the November ballot.
Oregon judges have been chosen in nonpartisan elections since 1931. The governor appoints judges to fill mid-term vacancies and the appointee stands for election at the next general election. In recent years, approximately 85% of Oregon judges have first been appointed and subsequently the majority were unopposed in elections to retain their seats.
CITIZEN INITIATIVES FAIL:
In November 2002, two measures were placed on the ballot through initiative petitions intended to make judges more accountable. Oregon voters rejected both measures. The first measure would have given voters a “none of the above” option when voting for judges and would have required mid-term judicial appointees to run for election at the next election, rather than the next general election.
The second would have provided for the election of appellate judges from geographic districts rather than statewide.
The push for these initiatives was motivated by a series of controversial court rulings reversing several voter-approved initiatives, and by the release in 2000 of a death row inmate who had been denied the right to a speedy trial.