Pa. House bill would scrap cross-filing for school board, county judge candidates

    (Kelley Minars/Flickr)

    *This post has been updated.

    When you step into the voting booth on Nov. 5, the chances are pretty good that you’ll see local school board or judicial candidates who are running on both the Democratic and Republican tickets.

    And unless you’re studied up on the races, or know the candidate personally, the chances are also pretty good that you’ll be asking yourself, “Are they a Democrat? Are they a Republican?” And maybe you’ll fall back on tribal and party loyalties to make your decision.

    Two Republican lawmakers — one from southwestern Pennsylvania, the other from the Lehigh Valley — want to end that practice. On Tuesday, they rolled out a bill that would scrap cross-filing by school board, county judicial, and district magistrate candidates.

    Rep. Justin Simmons, R-Lehigh, who’s been working on the issue for the past few legislative sessions, said the bill is also intended to address the increasingly partisan nature of campaigns for public offices that have traditionally been nonpartisan.

    “We’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think [these races are partisan],” Simmons said. “It’s human nature. People should know who [these candidates] are.”

    Rep. Matthew Dowling, R-Fayette, who’s also sponsoring the bill, echoed that sentiment, saying that “it can be confusing for voters when a candidate is nominated for more than one party, leaving them uncertain about which one truly aligns with their philosophical beliefs.”

    The bill is now before the House State Government Committee. The panel’s chairman, Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, is “supportive” of the proposal, Dowling said.

    The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, has not taken a position on the bill, the agency said in an email.

    John L. Micek
    John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.