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All the info you need for Pa.'s 2022 primary

Plus, government database on toxic chemicals in homes undercounts Pa.

A weekly newsletter by Spotlight PA

May 12, 2022 |
Drug labs, primary information, election advice, staffing crisis, lawsuit shield, ballot drive, flawed audit, unfamiliar maps, and actual abortion access.
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The only online federal database that allows people to see whether their home or property was contaminated with toxic chemicals used to make drugs like methamphetamine significantly undercounts the number of sites in Pennsylvania, according to data obtained by Spotlight PA's Jamie Martines.

Similar reporting discrepancies exist in neighboring states, but Pennsylvania is one of several nationwide that do not have laws or guidelines outlining how contaminated properties should be cleaned or when they are safe to live in.

Pennsylvania also does not require sellers or landlords to disclose a former drug lab or dump site to future buyers or tenants — a potential issue in a hot housing market that has buyers and renters making quick decisions to compete for properties.

Finally, Spotlight PA is committed to getting you prepared for next Tuesday's primary. We published a last-minute guide this week, and we have more info below. 
"How do you ensure that all of these different things are removed when you have little to go on as to what was actually involved in the process?"

—Matt Stripp, of AHN Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, on a lack of information about former drug labs in Pennsylvania
» A complete guide to the May 17 primary

» Everything you need to know about your mail ballot

» Your guide to the Democratic and GOP candidates for governor

» A guide to the often-overlooked race for Pa. lieutenant governor

» Big donations to GOP guv candidates: Who gave and how much?

» Josh Shapiro is amassing a big war chest. Who gave and how much?

» Watch Spotlight PA's debates: GOP governor candidates, GOP U.S. Senate candidates debate, and Dem U.S. Senate candidates debate

» Tell Spotlight PA what election coverage matters the most to you

» Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate race: What we know so far
» Why Pennsylvania’s health department is taking Spotlight PA to court

» Spotlight PA wants your help flagging school health hazards

» Why independents can’t vote for candidates this May

All the information you need for the 2022 Pa. primary

The primary is just a few days away! To make sure you’re ready to vote, Spotlight PA answered some of your most frequently asked questions, like where and when can you vote and what to do with your mail ballot. Kate Huangpu, Spotlight PA

  • Who can vote? Registered Democrats and Republicans will have a slate of candidates in different races — including those for governor and U.S. senator — to choose from. Nonaffiliated Pennsylvanians can vote on ballot questions (there are no statewide ones this primary, but some local ones) and in special elections. Contact your county election office for more information.

  • When can I vote? Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. As long as you’re in line to vote by 8 p.m., you are allowed to vote. 

  • Where’s my polling place? You can find your polling place here by entering your address.

  • Am I registered to vote? Check here using either your name and address or state-issued ID.

  • Do I need a photo ID? You only need a photo ID if it’s your first time voting at a polling place. There’s more information for first-time voters here

  • Is it too late to turn in a mail ballot? Your county election office needs to receive the mail ballot by 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you haven’t sent it in the mail by now, you should drop it off in person at your county election office — which you can locate here.

  • Does my county have drop boxes? Not all counties have drop boxes available. You can check if your county does here. The county election office still needs to receive your mail ballot by 8 p.m Election Day, so make sure you’re submitting the ballot with enough time. 

  • What’s a “naked ballot”? Your mail ballot comes with two different envelopes — an inner envelope for secrecy, and another for the purposes of mailing the ballot itself. A naked ballot is one that is missing its secrecy envelope and therefore will not be counted. Make sure your ballot is properly enclosed and signed before you drop it off. For more details, read Spotlight’s mail ballot guide here

  • Can I check the status of my mail ballot once I submit it? Yes! You can check if your mail ballot has been received here using your name, date of birth, and county.
  • What else should I know? You can check Spotlight’s primary election guide here for more details.

THROWAWAYS: State Rep. Russ Diamond (R., Lebanon) — a lieutenant governor hopeful — sought advice on overturning Pennsylvania's 2020 election results from the same GOP attorney who suggested then-Vice President Mike Pence block President Joe Biden's victory. In response, attorney John Eastman suggested legislators like Diamond retabulate Pennsylvania's popular vote and throw out tens of thousands of absentee ballots, via Politico.

CRISIS CALLS: States are rolling out a new 988 hotline as an easier way of connecting with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. In Pennsylvania, dialing 988 will connect people in need with crisis centers statewide, but WITF reports those centers are already short-staffed and concerned about rising volume at a time of heightened pandemic-era demand. Closing the gaps won't be cheap, and PublicSource reports the state's funding plan is very much unsettled.

LEGAL DEFENSE: The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania says it's shielded by constitutional protections against a lawsuit alleging some of the county courts it oversees violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by barring people with opioid use disorder (an ADA-covered condition) from taking lifesaving and legal addiction treatments, CNHI reports. The lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice after a written warning that was first reported by Spotlight PA.

VOTER DRIVE: A Republican-led effort to drive voter turnout in Philly's 26th Ward is raising red flags. The Inquirer reports election officials received mail ballot applications from dozens of GOP voters there, all asking to have their ballot sent to the same GOP-linked P.O. Box. The 23-year-old (now former) ward leader behind the effort says it's all above board, but lawyers from both parties are unsure. The scrutiny comes as the GOP itself attacks mail voting and warns of "ballot harvesting."

'DEEPLY FLAWED': Canvassing data collected by a right-wing group working to overturn Pennsylvania's 2020 election results is "riddled with errors" and the product of a "deeply flawed" methodology, LNP reports. Audit the Vote PA says its volunteers found people insisting they didn't vote in the 2020 election despite state records showing they did; the volunteers often took the word of others — not the actual voter.

» AP: Lawmakers navigate Pennsylvania primary with unfamiliar maps

» CENTRE DAILY TIMES: Jake Corman drops out of governor's race

» INQUIRER: It can be as hard to get an abortion in Pa. as in Mississippi

» REUTERS: Police trainers with far-right ties teaching hundreds of cops

» WNEP: Protective order against lt. gov. candidate tossed

Send your answers to

WORD SALAD (Case No. 146)Some cogs are tigs. All tigs are bons. Some bons are pabs. Some pabs are tigs. Therefore, all cogs are pabs: True or false?

Feeling smart? Challenge a friend.
Last week's answer: A ton (Find last week's clue here)
Congrats to Anthony E., who will receive Spotlight PA swag. Others who answered correctly: Rebecca H., Fred O., George S., Judy A., Michelle T., Matt P., Jon N., Marcia R., Annette I., John H., Mary B., Michael H., Karen K., Donna D., Ann E., Anthony E., Robert K., Irene T., Dennis F., Beth T., Heather B., Sharon W., and Johnny C.
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