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State of Washington

History of Reform Efforts: Washington

Formal Changes Since Inception

1889
Under Washington's original constitution, judges of the supreme court were elected by the people to six- year terms. Judges of the superior court were elected by the people to four-year terms.

1907
Legislature established a direct nonpartisan elective system for nominating judges, replacing party conventions. Separate nonpartisan ballots were also authorized for the general elections.

1969
Court of appeals created. Judges elected to six-year terms.

1995
Voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing justices of the supreme court to elect a chief justice. Prior to the amendment, the chief justice was determined by a complex rotation system. The chief justice's term was increased from two to four years.

2006
Legislature applied the same contribution limits to candidates for the supreme court and court of appeals as for statewide candidates for other offices, and it put the same cap on contributions to superior court candidates that exists for state legislative candidates.