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Pa. Democrats just scored 3 big voting victories


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Joseph Darius Jaafari
September 18, 2020
Voting victories for Democrats, legal experts question COVID-19 court ruling, and a surprisingly intense conversation about fonts. You made it to Friday!
Three. That's how many decisions the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued Thursday that will have a direct impact on the Nov. 3 election and its outcomes in our important swing state, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The court will allow counties to accept ballots that arrive three days after the election, as long as they're postmarked by Election Day. The justices also dropped Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins from the November ballot over technicalities. And, finally, they OK'd the use of satellite drop boxes, which Republicans have falsely argued could be compromised. 

The Context: 
The moves by the state's highest court are largely seen as benefitting Democratic voters, who are expected to vote by mail more this year than Republicans. In 2019, the state enacted no-excuse mail-in voting as part of a large election reform package. Still, more than 20,000 ballots weren't counted during this summer's primaries because they came in after the election. 

The changes are also expected to delay the ballot-counting process. Forecasters have warned voters not to expect results on election night, as has been customary in the past. 

There's one thing Gov. Tom Wolf and the GOP-legislature could do to help that: let counties begin processing mail-in ballots before Election Day. But as Spotlight PA reports, election reform talks were already stalled before Thursday's decisions. Now, with 
Republicans condemning the court’s rulings as partisan and dangerous, the chances of Wolf and GOP leadership reaching an agreement seems less likely than ever.
"Naturally I'm misanthropic. But the Negronis are helping considerably."

–– Anthony Bourdain on Negronis, which are being celebrated across the beverage world during Negroni Week. Pittsburgh City Paper has some recipes from their fave local bartenders for you to try.
POST IT: "One of the best and most wide-open views in Pennsylvania," @mark_in_pa says of this spot in Hyner View State Park in Clinton County. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
ON SHAKY GROUND: A federal court decision that found some of Gov. Tom Wolf's COVID-19 orders unconstitutional was based on precedent that is taught as "arrogant, judicial overreach" in constitutional law classes, Spotlight PA reported with our partner the Tribune-Review.

ONGOING ISSUES: Since March, the state health department found that 17% of all of Pa. nursing homes have deficiencies with infection control, the Bucks County Courier Times reports. Problems include mistakes involving hand hygiene, quarantine protocols, shared medical equipment, and poor COVID-19 screening practices. The state has struggled mightily to improve nursing home oversight in recent years.

THE LONE DEFENDER: Judge Luis Felipe of Pennsylvania is the only non-prosecutor left on the U.S. Sentencing Committee, which sets sentencing rules for the federal prison system. President Donald Trump is attempting to stack the panel with nominees who are nearly all white male former prosecutors, The Marshall Project and Daily Beast report. 

BAIL CHANGE: A judge lowered the $1 million bail set for a group of people in Lancaster arrested on a
rson, riot, and vandalism charges after a protest against a police shooting, LNP reports. In the same city, a homeless man is facing aggravated assault, riot, and other charges after allegedly shining a green laser into the police department's building

MAIL THOSE BALLOTS! With a lawsuit over a Green Party candidate now resolved, Pennsylvania counties can begin sending out ballots, the Washington Post reports. Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong is urging people to fill them out and return them by Oct. 20, The Morning Call reports
» HELP US FIGHT BACK: Earlier this week, we told you how the campaign of Sen. Joe Scarnati, the leader of the Pennsylvania Senate, is suing a Spotlight PA reporter and another journalist for thousands of dollars it says it's owed for turning over public campaign finance records. This, despite a state agency saying the campaign is not entitled to charge those exorbitant fees.

A huge thank you to all who have shown their support so far. And if you haven't yet, fearless, independent journalism needs you right now.

Make your contribution to help us keep up the fight.
MAILBAG, TAKE 1: A shoutout to Joel S,  who recommended we bold our links to make them easier to read. We agree! We're always listening and improve based on your feedback. Have a question or a thought?  Drop us a line. 

MAILBAG, TAKE 2: We got a lot of positive feedback on the font change for our newsletter. One of our favorites was from Jeffrey S., who said, "Serifs are a relic of the Stone Age because they were developed to allow stonecarvers to smooth out the ends of elements of a letter. My personal favorites are Verdana and Lucida Console, preferably at least 12-13 points as many federal courts require." Took the words right out of my mouth, Jeffrey. For those who are also typography aficionados, HypeBeast breaks down the world's most famous Sans Serif font: Helvetica.

COLD SEASON: I've said this since the shutdowns happened: As mask mandates allow us to socialize outdoors, many in the American South and Southwest will be fine. Why? Because they don't have to deal with the cold like us in the north. In short: It might be a good time to invest in an outdoor heater. The Inquirer has some guidance on how to buy the best one

REMEMBER THAT RUMOR? For those of you who follow me, you know I have a fascination with how conspiracy theories spread online. Remember all the media coverage about how touching the opiate fentanyl could make you overdose? Or the one where a cop said he and his dog overdosed after touching the drug? None of it was true. And it looks like the rumor started on Facebook, according to a study that traced its origins.

LIVING ROOM CONCERTS: Like most organizations, City of Asylum in Pittsburgh had to cancel its in-person International Jazz Poetry Month events. But happily for those of us who aren't in Western Pennsylvania, the nonprofit has moved these performances online. See the schedule here.

TAKE 5: Yesterday was the Islamic New Year. To our friends who celebrate, Eid-Mubarak! Take a few minutes today to reach out to your Muslim friends and celebrate with them. Unless your Muslim friends might be Persian. In that case, our New Year celebration isn't until March. But it'll still be good to hear from you! If you don't have Muslim friends, take a few minutes and watch this video (from three years ago) about the New Year celebration.  

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
N P Q I E M T E U  

Yesterday's answer: Collective

Congrats to our daily winners: Kathleen M., Chris W., Lynne E., Steve D., Lisa M., Tracey C., Thomas B., Theodore W., Art W., John C., Patricia M., Craig W., Deb N., Kim C., Brandie K., Patricia R., David W., Joel S., Ann and John, Karen W., Cory N., Kathy W., Alex L., Irene R., Daniel G., Linda B., and Chris M.
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