What are judicial retention elections?
Retention elections are intended to focus on the professional competency of Iowa’s judges rather than the popularity of individual rulings. In a retention election, voters decide whether a judge should be retained or removed from office. If a judge receives a majority of “yes” votes, the judge serves another full term. If a judge receives a majority of “no” votes, the judge is removed from office at the end of the year.

Why does Iowa have  retention elections?
In 1962, Iowa voters approved a constitutional amendment that replaced elections of judges with merit selection and retention elections. A process using merit selection and retention elections:

  • Curbs the influence of political parties and special interest groups in the selection of Iowa’s judges.
  • Emphasizes the selection of judges based upon their professional qualifications.
  • Gives voters the final say about who serves as a judge.
  • Is the most effective way to ensure fair and impartial courts.Why does Iowa have  retention elections?

Retention Elections