Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Potentially thousands of mail ballots lost in Pa. county


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Sarah Anne Hughes
October 29, 2020
The supremes weigh in again, lost ballots, a disaster proclamation, nursing home woes, future Dunkin' and the wine of 2020. Deep breath, it's Thursday. 

As Pennsylvania inched another day closer to the presidential election, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to expedite a challenge to the state's extended mail ballot deadline. But the justices left open the door to an eventual intervention, Spotlight PA reports. 

At issue: a state Supreme Court ruling that gave counties an additional three days — or until Nov. 6 — to receive ballots. The Pennsylvania Republican Party petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the ruling and, after being denied, asked the justices to speed consideration of the full case.

As the critical court battle continued to play out, Pennsylvania's top election official urged voters to hand-deliver their completed ballots to election offices or drop boxes. With mail delays, there is no guarantee a ballot mailed now will arrive in time, and no guarantee they will be counted if they arrive after Nov. 3.

Anticipating the challenge of late ballots to continue, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar directed counties to set aside any mail-in and absentee ballots that arrive after Nov. 3, even if they have a postmark showing that they were sent before Election Day.

The Context: The final days before Nov. 3 continue to challenge both state and local election officials.

In Erie, the county board of elections banned gatherings of two or more voters openly carrying guns near polling places in response to concerns about possible Election Day intimidation efforts.

To the south, Butler County commissioners publicly grappled with potentially thousands of lost ballots voters had requested.

And in Cumberland County, commissioners were catching serious heat for saying they would tally only in-person votes on Election Day, and wait until the next day to count mail votes. Since Democrats outnumber Republicans in mail voting, in-person voting may skew Republican, and thus Trump.

By reporting only in-person results on election night, it may appear as though Trump has done very well. Then, on Nov. 4 and after, as mail ballots are tallied, that lead could shrink... or disappear. This could play into Trump's hands, being able to claim he "won" on election night and then it was stolen from him, which is exactly the kind of scenario he has suggested would happen at rallies.

The most important thing for voters to remember? Stay calm and informed. Spotlight PA has already answered some of your most pressing questions about voting and will continue to do so until Tuesday.

As an additional public service, Spotlight PA is hosting a live reader Q&A at 10 a.m. Monday. You can RSVP for free right now.  


"I don’t mind. I’ve got snacks and drinks."

–– Tammi Moran, a Yardley resident, who was caught in one of several long lines in Bucks County this week as residents waited to apply for a mail ballot or vote on demand

POST IT: Is there anything more beautiful than Pennsylvania in the fall? Thanks, @paulhogsett62, for this shot of Wellsboro. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
A 'FRAGILE TIME': Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday issued a disaster proclamation to provide more support to Philadelphia as it handles the aftermath of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., CBS Philly reports. Peaceful protests this week were followed by instances of store break-ins and clashes between law enforcement and some demonstrators.

ALE AID: In an effort to ease the burden on ailing restaurants and bars, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board voted to wave $27.7 million in fees. "Hopefully this isn’t too late for a lot of people but you’ve got to start somewhere," one bar owner told TribLIVE.

REVERSE COURSE: One day after formally requesting the recusal of newly installed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett in a key legal dispute, Luzerne County Council reversed course and voted to pull the filing, The Times Leader reports. Some council members said they didn't know the county would file the motion in the first place. 

STILL LACKING: As COVID-19 cases surge again, Pennsylvania's nursing homes still don't have enough personal protective equipment, a new analysis of federal data shows. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the report found that shortages of N95 and surgical masks increased over the summer.

BOOZE RULES: Undercover Pittsburgh police officers are only allowed to consume two alcoholic drinks in a four-hour span, the Post-Gazette reports. The reveal comes after four undercover officers were caught on a security camera in 2018 drinking for several hours then brawling with members of a motorcycle club.

TICKS: A new study found that more than a third of ticks statewide carry Lyme or a similar disease. And while summer's gone away, ticks haven't, so take precautions when spending time in the woods

LEAVES LEAVES GO AWAY: Still haven't made time to take your annual leaf-peeping trip around the state? You're about to run out of time: Heavy rain is expected to wash away the last of the foliage today and tomorrow.

WHAT TO LISTEN TO IF ... You're in a rainy mood: The recent weather has me turning to the queen of the Blues, Philadelphia native Billie Holiday. Especially on a cloudy day, I want to hear her sing "Stormy Weather" or "Come Rain or Come Shine."

RAISE A GLASS: A small Pennsylvania winery is capitalizing on this nightmarish year with a wine whose name I can't print here (this is a family newsletter). Grovedale Winery's owner said part of the proceeds will go to helping people access mental health services.

DUNKIN' OF THE FUTURE: If you're a loyal Dunkin' customer you might want to check out this new store in the Lehigh Valley, being hailed as a "restaurant of the future." While you're at it, I'll have a small hot with cream and a sour cream doughnut (if you like jelly, we can't be friends).

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.

Yesterday's answer: Broomstick 

Congrats to our daily winners: Joan S., Irene K., Craig W., Patricia M., Lynne E., Kim C., Beth T., Thomas B., George S., Ron P., Karen W., Patricia R., Brandie K., Al F., Carol D., Joel S., Bill C., Tracey C., Tish M., Lance L., Chris W., Jeff M., Dianne K., Kevin L., and Ann and John.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Chip in to support local journalism.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
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.

Spotlight PA
225 Market St., Suite 502A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, which has combined with Spotlight PA to create Pennsylvania's largest statewide newsroom dedicated to accountability journalism.

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.