When a mess of an election is the preferred method

The November ballot in this area’s General Election will have a different look to be sure.

There’s an Independent candidate, former Commissioner Rebecca Burke, on the ballot.

Likewise, there’s an Independent candidate, Paul Petcavage, seeking the office of Lycoming County District Attorney.

In the Montoursville School District, where there’s been a raging school building project debate for a year, a coalition of five write-in candidates won nominations in the May Primary Election. They will, in turn, be challenged by a new set of write-in candidates, most of them former or current school board members, in the fall.

So much for closed primaries making for predictable fall election ballots.

Each of the candidates who launched a write-in campaign in the spring or now had their reasons for wanting to gain a chance to sit on a school board and make multimillion-dollar decisions.

The same can be said for the Independent candidacies that have thrown a wrinkle in the commissioner and district attorney races.

Some would say that this hodge-podge of ballot entry makes for ragged elections, circumvents the intended election process and complicates the job of voters, who are supposed to make sound decisions based on full knowledge of all candidates.

That’s a fair observation.

But the larger point is that democracy has a habit of being a little bit messy.

We’ve got a system that leans heavily on candidates running on the tickets of the two major political parties.

But when citizens, particularly on the local level, believe circumstances call for a broader election process, that can happen too.

The alternative is a boring, government-sponsored election with a predetermined outcome. We think most citizens would prefer the mess of democracy over that.