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Spotlight PA answers your voting questions

Plus, how becoming a poll worker quieted an election skeptic's doubts.

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This is The Investigator, a free weekly newsletter with the top news from across Pennsylvania.
A weekly newsletter by Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.

November 2, 2023 | spotlightpa.org
Election believer, greenhouse 'tax,' campaign cash, voting questions, obsolete laws, judicial retention, in dispute, and university funding with a catch.

Jay Schneider thought the 2020 election results were "a little sketchy." But after working as a Chester County poll worker in 2022 and now taking on the role of an election judge for next Tuesday's balloting, he told Votebeat's Carter Walker he's confident that major fraud isn't possible.

Also this week, Kate Huangpu reports that Commonwealth Court struck down Pennsylvania's participation in an interstate program to reduce carbon emissions — a cornerstone of former Gov. Tom Wolf's climate agenda and one his successor, fellow Democrat Josh Shapiro, has been slow to embrace.

An appeal of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ruling is possible and urged by environmentalists. Shapiro's office did not specify whether it plans to pursue one but did say it's reviewing the matter carefully.

And finally, an analysis of new campaign finance data found millions of dollars pouring into Pennsylvania's Supreme Court election between Democrat Daniel McCaffery and Republican Carolyn Carluccio — big shares from a libertarian billionaire and a new Democratic-aligned group.

Be sure to check out Spotlight PA's 2023 Election Center before Tuesday for all your election needs. And keep scrolling for answers to voting FAQs.


"The decisions are flawed, and, frankly, went about as expected."

—Robert Routh, attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, on Wednesday's court rulings striking down Pennsylvania's participation in the multistate Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI

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At Spotlight PA, we put voters front and center in our nonpartisan election coverage. Get all the information you need to make an informed vote this November by visiting our Election Center website

» See how judges affect you and the issues you care about most

» Pa. Supreme Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more

» Complete guide to the candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court

» Pa. Superior Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more

» Pa. Commonwealth Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more

» Complete guide to the candidates for Commonwealth, Superior Courts

» What to know about the judicial retention questions on Pa. ballots

» Complete guide to who is on the ballot, when to vote & more 

» Everything you need to know about using a mail ballot 

» Elecciones Pa. 2023: Traducciones al Español
» VOTER READY: Join us TODAY from 6-7 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on voting rights in Pennsylvania, important dates and deadlines, and answers to your remaining Election Day questions. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.

» RESULTS REVIEW: Join us, the New Pennsylvania Project, and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 6-7 p.m. for a Q&A on the election results. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
» Rural towns hope to entice remote workers to move to the Pa. Wilds with a ‘free’ summer. Here’s how it’s going.

» Pa. election 2023: When to expect results, how officials are preparing, and more

» The Tree of Life synagogue massacre led to little action by the Pa. legislature

» Pa. voting law filled with obsolete provisions, troublesome conflicts

» Who is Judge Victor Stabile, and what is judicial retention?

» Who is Judge Jack Panella, and what is judicial retention?

Get ready for Tuesday's election

Pennsylvania’s 2023 election is almost here.

On Nov. 7, voters will head to the polls to select a new state Supreme Court justice and new judges to sit on Commonwealth and Superior Courts. They will also decide whether two judges on Superior Court should get another term.

The winners of these important races will shape laws on a range of issues including abortion, the environment, and school funding. In some parts of the state, Pennsylvanians will also vote in municipal elections. 

Here are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions. —Elizabeth Estrada, Spotlight PA

When is Election Day in Pennsylvania?  
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7. Mark your calendars! 

When do polls open for Pennsylvania’s 2023 election?
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. As long as you are in line to vote by 8 p.m., you are entitled to cast a ballot.

Where do I vote?
You can find your polling location on the Pennsylvania Department of State website.

Am I registered to vote?
You can check your voter registration online. Search using your name, county, ZIP code, and birthday, or by entering your driver’s license or PennDOT identification card number.

Can I vote if I forgot to register?
Unfortunately, Oct. 23 was the deadline to register to vote in this election.

Can I vote if my registration is inactive?
Yes! An “inactive” voter is one who hasn’t voted for five years and who hasn’t responded to a county notice about their registration.

If that’s your status, you can still vote on Nov. 7.

Can I vote if I live in a different county?
If you moved within Pennsylvania more than 30 days before an election but did not update your registration, you can vote at the polling place for your old address for one election.

“If you moved to a different county, you need to fill out a form telling us your new address and the county where you moved,” according to the Department of State. “After the election, the county election office for both your old and new addresses will update your voter registration. You will receive a new voter registration card matching your new address.”

Read more in the “If you move” section of the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.

What do I need to bring to vote?
If this is your first time voting or your first time voting since changing addresses, you’ll need to bring proof of identification. This can include any government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or U.S. passport, a utility bill or bank statement that includes your name and address, or a military or student ID. See the full list of options.

I voted by mail. How do I check if my ballot has been received?
You can check the status of your mail ballot online.

I still have my mail ballot. How can I return it?
Your county must receive your ballot by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

At this point, we do not advise that you put your ballot in the mail since it will not arrive by the deadline.

Instead, drop it off at your county election office or at a satellite location or drop box, if your county offers those options. See a full list of ballot drop-off locations.

Follow all the instructions to make sure your ballot is counted.

I requested a mail ballot but haven’t gotten it. What should I do?
If you have not received your mail ballot, you can still vote in person at your polling location.

A poll worker will offer you a provisional ballot, which will be counted after election officials confirm you did not submit a mail ballot.

I have a mail ballot but don’t want to use it. How can I vote?
Bring all your mail ballot components, including the envelopes, to your polling place and turn them over to poll workers. You’ll be required to sign a form declaring that you haven’t voted by mail. After that, you should be allowed to vote at the precinct.

Read Spotlight PA’s complete coverage, including candidate and election guides, court explainers, important cases, and more, at our 2023 Election Center.

🏆 NEXT QUESTION: Did you stay on top of the news this week? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Old election rules, 'illegal tax,' high-rank resignation, and claim to veep fame.
This week's top news story in PennsylvaniaFUNDING MOVE: The state House on Tuesday cleared a $643 million appropriations bill for four state-related universities — with a catch, TribLIVE reports. The bill, now headed to the state Senate (which returns Nov. 13), requires the schools to freeze tuition next year. Tuition hikes and transparency concerns have contributed to lawmaker pushback around the funding, now delayed well into the fall semester.

This week's second top news story in PennsylvaniaIN DISPUTE: Washington County's coroner says a police shooting ruled justified by the local district attorney should have instead led to criminal charges against the officer involved, WPXI reports. Eduardo Lee Hoover Jr., 38, was killed following a vehicle chase in April. Concerns about DA investigations of the local police they often work closely with have spurred calls for more third-party involvement.

This week's third top news story in PennsylvaniaOUT OF SCHOOL: The Inquirer (paywall) dug into Philadelphia's truancy problem to examine root causes. Nearly half of all district students were chronically absent in the 2021-22 school year, and Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr. once called the district's absenteeism a “life-and-death” issue. But some students say it's fear for their safety at school that's keeping them from going.

PUBLIC POSTS? The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments in a pair of cases that test the ability of public officials to block critics from their personal social media pages, per the AP. In Pennsylvania, an April court decision raised the bar for when a government official’s personal social media posts are public records, likely making citizen access more burdensome and costly, Spotlight PA reported.

TROUBLED HOMES: Pennsylvania is aging rapidly, and TribLIVE reports the commonwealth's long-term care industry is facing "long-term trouble." The outlet says Pennsylvania has more abuse-related federal enforcement actions than most states, and that while some nursing homes have consistently been poorly rated and flagged for abuse here, none have had their license revoked in the past three years.

» CAPITAL-STAR: Concerns about foreign acquisitions of Pa. farms
» INSIDE HIGHER ED: A tale of two Pennsylvania college mergers
» MORNING CALLPa. leaf blowers are big emission contributors
» PENNLIVE: Bill to override states' animal cruelty laws creates rifts
» STATEIMPACT: Shapiro's DEP Secretary Rich Negrin has resigned
Send your answers to riddler@spotlightpa.org.

OPEN LETTERS (Case No. 224)A word I know, six letters it contains, remove one letter and 12 remains. What is it?
Feeling smart? Challenge a friend.

Last week's answer: The catcher or umpire. (Find last week's clue here.) 

Congrats to Michael E., who will receive Spotlight PA swag. Others who answered correctly: Rebecca D., Jon N., Michael H., Roseanne D., Johnny C., Annette I., John W., Phil C., Bruce B., Marcia R., Ken S., Joe T., Beth T., Fred O., and Joe S.
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PO Box 11728
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728


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