Note: I am not endorsing any candidate, just explaining how the system works.
Few Pennsylvania voters are familiar with the judges up for election in a few weeks, right? Even though the outcome of the elections will influence government’s control over us for many years, few know how to begin to evaluate the candidates, right?
Since so few people understand the qualifications of the Pennsylvania candidates, and they need to raise money to get re-elected, there is a move to have judges appointed rather than elected. The counter-argument is that if a judge is appointed for life, it’s too easy for that individual, over time, to lose touch with those who are served, with no way to remove the judge. An election every ten years provides an opportunity for voters to re-assess whether a judge should serve another term. Pennsylvania has tried several different methods since 1776.
One important upcoming election is for Judge of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. For example, Judge Saylor is one candidate up for re-election. The way it works in Pennsylvania is that over half the votes cast must choose “yes” to retain Judge Saylor another ten years. If they do not, and most choose “no” not to retain him, the governor appoints a temporary replacement, with a later election to fill the vacancy. Since Judge Saylor has served on the PA Supreme Court longer than anyone else, he is the Chief Justice.
How can the average voter collect information about him or any other judge? One source is Ballotpedia:
Another source is to check the votes that came in from attorneys from the local bar association or check your local political party, including your local committee person. The last place source of information to make a decision is what is said in a radio, television or Facebook ad.
If you have any insight about the upcoming Pennsylvania judicial elections, write a comment below.