Data Archive

This dataset contains information on contestation rates in general jurisdiction trial court elections. The data come from all 29 states that used contestable elections to both select and retain judges for their general jurisdiction trial courts in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008. The general jurisdiction trial court(s) in each state were identified using the Survey of State Court Organization compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for State Courts as well as the classification system utilized by the American Judicature Society. The data were compiled using election returns and candidate filing information provided by state and county officials, state blue books, newspaper articles, communication with county and state election officials and court administrators, and third-party sources (such as the California Elections Data Archive and voter information guides produced by the League of Women Voters). The contestation numbers have been double (and in some cases, triple) checked for accuracy; the names of the winning candidates are provided simply for convenience and have not been subject to double-checking.

The data do not contain contestation rates from Alameda County, California (county officials were unable to provide contestation statistics) or the Indiana Superior Court for the year 2000 (neither the Indiana Secretary of State's office nor the Indiana State Archives were able to provide primary election returns).

If you use these data, please cite the following article:
Michael J. Nelson. 2011. "Uncontested and Unaccountable? Rates of Contestation and the Quest for Accountability in General Jurisdiction Trial Courts." Judicature. Forthcoming.

Should you locate any errors in the data, please e-mail

2011 Release 01

If you have this data available, please contact us.