116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Two Iowa Supreme Court justices and two Court of Appeals judges, along with 61 associate and district judges across the state, all received enough retention votes in Tuesday’s election to keep their jobs.
Thirteen of the state’s 14 judicial districts had at least one judge standing for retention. All of the judges received more than 60 percent “yes” votes, according to unofficial results published by the Iowa Secretary of State.
The results were based on vote totals in 97 of 99 counties. Administrative recounts have been ordered in Warren and Des Moines counties.
In the merit-selection process, which Iowa adopted in 1962, if judges receives a majority of “yes” votes, they stay on the bench.
The only time in recent history judges haven’t been retained was after the Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in 2009. Three of the justices up for retention in 2010 — David Baker, Marsha Ternus and Michael Streit — were removed by voters.
They were three of the seven justices who unanimously decided that an Iowa law restricting marriage to one man and one woman violated the state’s constitution.
On Tuesday, Justice Matthew McDermott of West Des Moines, received 69 percent “yes” votes out of 892,991 total voters, and Justice Dana Oxley of Swisher, who formerly practiced in Cedar Rapids, received 67 percent “yes” votes out of 880,094 votes cast. Both justices were appointed in 2020 by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Appellate Judge Gina Badding of Carroll received 71 percent of “yes” votes out of 852,037 voters and Appellate Judge Paul Ahlers of Fort Dodge received 70 percent out of 848,348 voters. Ahlers was appointed in 2019 by Reynolds and Badding was appointed in 2021.
In the 6th Judicial District — Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Tama counties — 11 judges were up for retention. On the ballot were Chief Judge Lars Anderson and District Judges Christopher Bruns, Chad Kepros, Justin Lighfoot, Kevin McKeever, Sean McPartland and Ian Thornhill. The associate district judges on the ballot were Valerie Clay, Carrie Bryner, Jason Burns and Heidi Carmer.
Each received 70 percent or more “yes” votes out of more than 122,000 votes.
The retention election of the merit-based process started when an Iowa constitutional amendment replaced a partisan process of electing judges in 1962.
A nominating commission vets applicants for the judicial positions and then forwards three nominees to the governor, who appoints one. Every judge is up for retention at the next general election after serving a full year. After that, they appear on the ballot every six years.
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