Same school district — but different requirements to run for school director.

That situation faces residents of the City of DuBois, which is one of the three election regions for directors of the DuBois Area School District.

Our own area’s state Rep. Matt Gabler wants to fix this disparity.

It should be fixed.

The state election code does not specifically address the number of petition signatures required to run for school director. “School director” is lumped in with “auditor” and other offices.

Boroughs and townships have one set of rules. Third class cities have another set of rules.

In Region B (Sandy Township, Huston Township and Union Township and Falls Creek Borough in Clearfield County), and Region C (Brady Township and Troutville Borough in Clearfield County and Sykesville and Reynoldsville boroughs and Winslow Township in Jefferson County), candidates only need 10 valid nominating petition signatures to win places on the election ballot.

In Region A, the third class City of DuBois, candidates need to get 100 signatures to be on the ballot in the same election for the same office.

Now, if DuBois’ population were 100,000, that might make sense. The 2016 Census estimate is 7,543. Sandy Township has a Census-estimated population of 10,625. Yet a Sandy Township resident running for school board needs just 10 signatures.

Gabler’s House Bill 444 would require 10 signatures for candidates from all three regions.

It’s a small fix, but it makes sense, and it makes for more equal governance. The Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf ought to concur.

Rep. Gabler could also be the focus of a modern-day change to state House rules: Absentee voting.

Gabler, a captain in the Army National Guard, is scheduled for deployment abroad next year. His office will continue to function, but he will not be able to vote because he is not personally present.

Why not?

Today’s deployed military personnel are in near-constant contact with “back home,” via cell phone, Internet, etc.

Military service is certainly a valid reason for a legislator’s absences to be excused. For short-term deployments for military service, why not allow “phone-in” votes in the House?

Such a narrowly drawn experiment in absentee voting could be a useful indicator as to whether it should/should not be expanded to account for lawmakers being able to vote despite medical absences, funerals, weddings, etc.

And the experiment would permit the voters of Gabler’s Tri-County Area district in Clearfield/Elk counties to have a voice in House votes.

It’s worth a try.

— Denny Bonavita

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