Crossfiling, or Why the Straight Democratic Ballot in November Will Have Republicans on It

If you don’t know about crossfiling, don’t feel bad. They didn’t teach this in high school history. But it explains why the Democratic ballot in this fall’s general election will have some Republicans on it (more on what to do about that later.)

What is crossfiling?

Under state law, only candidates for judgeships, district justice posts and school board seats can file nominating petitions to appear on the ballot for both the Democratic and Republican parties, according to the Pottstown Mercury. These positions are considered not political. Or at least, they weren’t in 1937 when the law was passed.

Here’s how it works: A crossfiled candidate has obtained the required number of petition signatures to appear on both the Democratic and Republican ballots in the primary election. Let’s say that 5 seats are open on the school board and 6 candidates are on the primary ballot, all crossfiled. The top 5 total vote-getters (4 Republicans and 1 Democrat) moved on to the general election. However, if we only look at the Republican primary results, the Democratic candidate came in sixth, so that candidate won’t be on the Republican general election ballot.

So the two ballots will look like this:

Democratic ballot

Republican ballot

Democrat

Republican 1

Republican 1

Republican 2

Republican 2

Republican 3

Republican 3

Republican 4

Republican 4

Republican 5

 

Suppose 100 voters (40 Democratic, 60 Republican) go to the polls and all vote straight tickets. The Democratic candidate gets 40 votes. The top four Republican candidates each get 100 votes. The fifth Republican candidate gets 60 votes. So all five Republicans win. If you flip the numbers (60 Democrats and 40 Republicans), the Democrat gets 60 votes and Republican 5, with 40, won’t be seated on the board. Bottom line: for the Democratic candidate to win one of the five spots on the board, more Democrats need to get out to vote, and need to vote only for the Democratic candidate. 

Crossfiling may be an idea whose time is past. A Republican state representative even introduced a bill to end it, but the bill went nowhere in the 2013-2014 legislative session.

Education is the keystone of democracy. When the secretary of the federal Department of Education is a longtime proponent of privatizing education and leading members of the Republican Party favor theology and big-money donors over science, who sits on the local school board is more important than ever. Local school boards work with the school administrators to (among other things) adopt courses of study and textbooks and ensure that children with special learning needs are accommodated.

What can you do?

Get out and vote on Nov. 7. For Hatboro-Horsham School Board, vote ONLY for Jennifer Wilson. For Horsham Township Council, vote ONLY for Veronica Hill-Milbourne and William "Bill" GallagherIf you vote the straight Democratic ticket, be sure to turn out their lights for any school board candidates not named Jennifer Wilson or any council candidates not named Veronica Hill-Milbourne and William T. Gallagher.

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