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Elect the best for school board


Tuesday, May 16, is an important election day. It is referred to as the municipal primary or the “off-year primary.”

Held in odd-numbered years, voters registered with one of the two major parties select their candidates for county, borough, township, judicial and school board positions for the following November election.

And here is the problem. Pennsylvania has closed primaries, meaning that only registered Republicans and Democrats can decide who will be on the ballot in the following November municipal election.

While it could be argued that only voters registered with one of the two political parties should choose their candidates for county, municipal and judicial positions, this is clearly not the case for school directors. School boards are expected to be nonpartisan in their role of directing education, and all voters should have a voice in who will be on the ballot for school board in November.

Given Pennsylvania’s closed primary, registered voters not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican party are disenfranchised. That’s approximately 17 percent of Bucks County registered voters, This is not democracy.

While there may be a rationale for closed primaries, there are also arguments against them. In a future article in the Bucks County Herald, the League of Women Voters (LWV) will explore the pros and cons of open and closed primaries. For this May, however, the primary is closed.

As indicated above, municipal primaries include voting for school directors. This is an appropriate term, as they truly do “direct” everything having to do with our schools — what is and isn’t taught, how it is taught, policies and procedures, budgets, program evaluations, teacher empowerment, superintendent selection etc.

In several Bucks County school districts, there have been serious disagreements among the citizenry about several issues affecting our schools, including which books can be in school libraries, how LGBTQ issues can be addressed, and how school funds should be spent.

Given these hotly contested issues, it is critical that all citizens have the opportunity to vote for the school directors they believe will best represent them. Nothing is more important to the health of our democracy than informed citizens; this is the task of schools -- to prepare our children to be informed citizens. We, the people, must identify and elect the very best candidates for our Bucks County school boards, even if we have no school aged children. The future of Bucks County largely depends on the quality of our schools.

The only way citizens currently unaffiliated with a major party can vote in the May primary is to change their registration to one of the two major parties (Republican or Democratic). While this may seem disingenuous, it allows all voters to weigh in on the selection of the school director candidates. Because school boards are expected to be nonpartisan, candidates for school director typically cross file and run on both the Republican and Democratic tickets. Thus, whether voters temporarily register as Democrats or Republications, they will be able to select from among all of the school board candidates.

After the primary, voters can change their registration back to nonaffiliated, independent, or third party. Also, voters uncomfortable about voting for candidates of a given party for the other positions on the ballot (county, municipal and judicial) have the option of leaving those positions blank and only voting for school directors.

As always, the LWV will be providing nonpartisan information regarding all of the candidates in the upcoming primary in two formats: the printed Voter’s Guide, published by the Bucks County Herald on April 27 and the online guide In addition, with respect to the school director candidates, the LWV invites you to check out a Zoom program about school boards (available at, under Events/Past Events Archive). Finally, the League has invited all 12 candidates for school director in Central Bucks to be interviewed. These interviews will be posted on the LWV website ( ) at the end of April.

Cathy Morano is a member of the League of Women Voters of Bucks County, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing voter education and services and advocating for issues. It envisions a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate.

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