Democracy in Action

In Pennsylvania, 66 of the state’s 67 counties are run by commissioners elected by voters (Philadelphia has a different form of government). In Montgomery County, not too far from where The Curmudgeon lives and even closer to where he lived the first 46 years of his life, one of the county’s three commissioners was elected attorney general of Pennsylvania and resigned his county position, leaving the seat vacant.

So how does the county go about replacing him? When is the special election to fill the vacancy?

There’s no election. The vacated seat was held by a Democrat, so the other Democrat on the three-member commission works with the chairman of the county’s Democratic Party – a guy pretty much no one in the county knows and who was never even elected dogcatcher by the voting public – to submit the name of a replacement nominee to the county’s 22 judges. Those judges can consider this nominee, come up with their own names, and then make the final choice. They can even select one of their own, if they wish.

And that’s it. No election, no input from voters, and anyone who happens to belong to the political party other than that of the person who chose not to stick around and finish the term for which he was elected is left on the outside, looking in.

And this passes for the democratic process in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

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