Why no primary election for jury commissioner this year?

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 4/6/13

As we can read today in “Judge rules no primary to pick jury commissioners” by Mark Solforo (AP), Daily Local News, 4/5/13:

HARRISBURG — A state judge has ruled that county jury commissioner races will not appear on next month’s spring primary ballot and the candidates instead will be chosen by the political parties…

But this is an elective row office? The two part-time jury commissioners by law have represented both parties, traditionally in order to reassure residents that jury selection is not tainted by political bias.

In an age of scandal in all institutions, who would be surprised if, somewhere in our great state where jailing political leaders is common and even a Supreme Court Justice is on her way to jail for public corruption, an unelected bureaucrat beholden to those in power made accommodations in a jury pool?

Those wishing to abolish the office say that computers do all the work anyhow. Some argument (as in the national effort, happily quashed in Chester County, to take away voting by paper-verifiable ballots). Then why not turn a whole lot of elective offices over to robots? Do we want robocracy or democracy?

So why are residents in danger of losing the reassurance of fairness and why did voters lose their rights this year?

I see two underlying reasons:

1) The Corbett administration and legislators friendly to his ideology have been eager to pare back government, and it was easy to pick on jury commissioners (of which, in Chester County, a Democrat has long been the lone non-Republican row officer, in addition to one commissioner out of three, also required by law).

The current snafu thus lines up with a whole list of Corbett-Harrisburg overreachings, such as the Voter ID mess, still tied up in court; the highly partisan redistricting in 2011, also overturned in court; and Corbett’s rescission of adultBasic health care, recently overturned in court (see my comments in “Court upholds rule of law and adultBasic Care“).

2) The two-party system, which is an artifact of our predominant “winner-take-all” vote count….

continue reading at Politics: A View from West Chester

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Filed under 2013 election, Chester County, Nathaniel Smith

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