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Philly appeals Trump vote counting case to high court

The Investigator

Special 2020 Election Edition

November 5, 2020 | spotlightpa.org

It’s Thursday in Pennsylvania, and there are still hundreds of thousands of mail ballots left to count. What gives?

First, you need to know the background. Counties in Pennsylvania couldn't begin processing the millions of ballots they received until 7 a.m. Election Day. That's because, despite pleas from local election officials, the legislature did not pass a pre-canvassing bill Gov. Tom Wolf would agree to sign.

Exactly how many mail ballots are left to count is unclear. The Department of State website shows 581,000 uncounted ballots as of noon, though some counties' own websites show them a bit ahead. 

In Allegheny County, workers still need to handle just over 35,000 mail ballots. You may have seen national reports that Allegheny County is "taking the day off" from counting ballots. That's not true. Because a mailing company sent the wrong ballots to 29,000 voters, as Spotlight PA and Votebeat reported earlier this week, those ballots can't even be processed until tomorrow.

And just now in Philadelphia, elections officials briefly paused counting of mail ballots amid a legal challenge from the Trump campaign over GOP observers, according to The Inquirer. The count has since resumed, and the city is asking the state Supreme Court to take up the case.

Spotlight PA is working around the clock to cut through misinformation and keep you informed with our live blog. Stick with us as the count continues. 

Sarah Anne Hughes of Spotlight PA


"That just hurts, because my vote counts just like anybody else’s. And I’m not understanding why I can’t vote."

— Candace Wright of York County, who was given wrong information by poll workers about where she was supposed to cast a ballot and lost her chance

Latest on COVID-19

 The state this week set another daily record for new confirmed cases, and hospitalizations are significantly increasing. So far, there has not been a significant rise in the death count, but that number often lags behind other indicators. Keep up with our coronavirus tracker, and sign up for alerts for your county

More from Spotlight PA

» INVESTIGATIONGaping loopholes and vague state guidance leave some Pa. families out of a home despite federal ban on evictions
» Trump, Republicans sharpen legal attacks on Pa. ballots as count continues
» Republicans poised to expand Pa. Senate control, keep House majority
» The months-long political saga that guaranteed a long Pa. vote count
» How Allegheny Co. relied on a company that sent ballots to wrong voters
» York County will do 'deep dive' into cause of huge waits at polling place

All eyes are on Pennsylvania. But Pennsylvanians were prepared thanks to strong local news.

More than a few times this year, I’ve thought to myself what stories might have been missed, what investigations might have gone untold, or what wrongdoing might have gone unchecked if Spotlight PA had never existed. This week, once again, I have a profound sense of the work at hand.

On Election Day, our team of Spotlight PA reporters fanned out across Pennsylvania to deliver an independent, nonpartisan, and accurate report of one of our most fundamental rights and duties — casting a ballot. I wanted to take a moment to tell you about our approach to election coverage.

Weeks ago, our team decided to forgo providing the actual results of the election, knowing they would be available from every other local and national media outlet. Instead, we wanted to focus all of our energy on how we get to those results: the voting, counting, irregularities, court challenges, misinformation, and more.

From those discussions, we formed three primary areas of coverage for Spotlight PA: First, the actions of the state legislature, state political parties, and the Wolf administration; second, challenges in state and federal courts; and third, misinformation, voter suppression, and voter intimidation.

This week, working hand-in-hand with The Philadelphia Inquirer, TribLIVE, PennLive, WITF Public Media and our 50+ other community newsroom partners, we've delivered a real-time accounting of the day’s events and context and perspective on the most important stories. And we'll keep doing it for as long as the news demands.

There is a lot of anxiety about this election, especially with Pennsylvania now in the spotlight. But Pennsylvanians were prepared thanks to strong local news. Whether it was the fight over processing mail ballots and concerns over when counties would count them, to challenges before the U.S. Supreme Court and training for poll workers, we covered all angles.

And right now, you can see why that journalism mattered so much. All the while, our reporting remains calm, without rushing to pre-judge or declare winners, always driven by facts, the truth, and what Pennsylvanians need to know most.

Christopher Baxter of Spotlight PA

This news can't wait. Become a member of Spotlight PA.

FRED ADAMS / For Spotlight PA
» Spotlight PA is the largest newsroom in Pa. dedicated to investigative and accountability journalism about our state government and urgent statewide issues. Join us. Become a member today and we'll triple your gift.

More on the election
» INQUIRER: The shifting lead in Pa. is not fraud. It's just how counting works.
» INQUIRER: All eyes are on Pa. These people are focused on counting votes.
» CUMBERLINK: Trump camp makes unusual bid for Pa. election security details
» MORNING CALL: Why is Lehigh County taking so long to count ballots? 
» WHYY: Voting barriers: Language access, constables, correcting mistakes 

Yaasmeen Piper of Spotlight PA


Send your answers to riddler@spotlightpa.org. Love the riddler? Chip in and become a member of Spotlight PA and your contribution will be TRIPLED.

COUNTING ERROR? (Case No. 63): How can 8 + 8 = 4?
Feeling smart? Challenge a friend.

Last week's answer: Grandmother was "resting," the only anagram for "stinger."
Congrats to Jyotin S., who will receive Spotlight PA swag. Others who answered correctly: Pat M., Roseanne D., Michael H., Dennis P., Ed N., Beth T., Melanie B., Jenn M., Hagan H., Judy A., John D., Joseph A., Steven B., George S., Edward F., Jeffrey W., Joseph S., Ed M., Wick D., Deborah D., Sandy O., Karen W., Wendy R., Lynda G., Jim W., Annette I., Paul H., Bruce G., Georgina R., Barbara B., Steve L., Kenneth J., Jaymes D., Pam M., Rick S., Mike M., Mary S., John H., Mark A., Linda C., Carl K., Philip C., Diana S., Joel S., Allen S., Ian K., William D., Beverly M., Gerry W., Barbara M., Marjorie S., Bruce B., Marian S., Karen K., Eileen D., Barbara E., Lance L., Lou R., Rebecca D., Mary B., Chris W., Anita S., Jean S., Jeffrey B., Drew C., Joan G., Kim H., Irene T., and Jon N.

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

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