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Misinformation about Allegheny Co. goes viral


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Joseph Darius Jaafari
November 6, 2020
Allegheny in the spotlight, Erie and Northampton don't bode well for Trump, vaccine pecking order, the best bagels, and Quaker lessons. It's finally Friday. 

The term "administrative work" is probably the most boring thing you can imagine. That was until Wednesday, when a New York Times reporter tweeted that Allegheny County election workers were taking a break from counting 35,000 ballots to do just that. The reporter quoted Allegheny County Council Member Bethany Hallam as saying, “I can’t get an answer as to why.” 

The tweet was misleading (and later deleted). But because this is 2020, and Pennsylvania is in the national spotlight (no pun intended), the post went viral. 

Here's the real answer: Allegheny County cannot legally begin processing 29,000 votes until today after 5 p.m., Spotlight PA and Votebeat report. Another 6,800 uncounted ballots have issues that need to be reviewed by a special board that convenes this morning.

THE CONTEXT: In September, the mailing company Midwest Direct sent the wrong ballot to 29,000 voters in Allegheny County. County officials sent out replacement ballots and, as part of a settlement with two Republican candidates, agreed not to count those votes until after the return deadline.

While in an average election year, this type of delay would probably only get local notice, 2020 is anything but average. At the moment, there are still thousands of mail ballots to be counted in Pennsylvania, which will be pivotal to determining who becomes the next president.

Speaking of the count, two bellwether counties — Erie and Northampton — are now in Vice President Joe Biden's column, indicative of the ongoing "blue shift" as mail ballots are counted. Spotlight PA will follow the count — and all of the legal challenges that are swirling — until the very end.

If you appreciate the hard work of our team on the group, chip in to support independent journalism and, for a limited time, we'll triple it.


“Forty percent of our state’s population will be a short drive from a Candy Land of legal weed."

— Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on New Jersey legalizing cannabis and his continued push for the Pa. legislature to follow suit 

POST IT: Take a breath from election news and look at this shot from @wvubush of a horse and a sunset in Hopwood, Pa. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
'STOP THE STEAL': Almost 100 people gathered on the state Capitol steps yesterday, protesting the continued counting of ballots in Pennsylvania, PennLive reports. Fueling it was a Facebook page dedicated to the movement that was spreading misinformation

FIRST-SERVED: People in congregate care settings — such as nursing homes, prisons, and hospitals — will be among the first people who will be offered the coronavirus vaccine once it's first created and available for use in the public, Spotlight PA reports. State officials made the announcement on the same day the state set a new record for daily cases.

SPARRING POLITICS, FEW CALLS: Attorney General Josh Shapiro pulled ahead of his Republican challenger as more mail ballots were counted, TribLIVE reports. U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb declared victory, but the Post-Gazette reports his GOP opponent has said he won't concede until all votes are counted. In the state legislature, the GOP celebrated impressive wins to keep control despite big Democratic spending.

BUDGET PAIN: The financial toll of the pandemic got real this week as Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez proposed a 5% property tax increase to offset losses, The Morning Call reports. "Even under the best scenario, the impact of the pandemic will continue to be with us well into 2021," he said.

THE CURE: Montgomery County voters are pretty mad about a lawsuit that seeks to exclude "cured" ballots, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. As Spotlight PA and Votebeat reported Wednesday, these ballots have become a target of the state Republicans and the Trump campaign, and a state court will hear a challenge to them today.
» YOU CAN STILL VOTE FOR LOCAL JOURNALISM IN PA: Become a member of Spotlight PA today and your contribution will be TRIPLED.

Thank you to everyone who had their gifts TRIPLED yesterday: Leo K., John C., Anna T., Helen H., David W., Carolyn C., Clarence B., Ronald O., William M., Michael S., David S., Peter S., Maya G., Caity W., Michael D., Julie P., Kristen H., Prudence K., Tracy C., Cynthia T., Tieshka S., Keith F., and Ellen H. 
QUIET, CALM, PATIENT: Quakers know a thing or two about waiting. We could probably learn from them right now. The Inquirer looks at how some Quakers are using their spiritual practice to apply it to waiting for ballots to be processed

TIK TOK FAMOUS: Pennsylvania is the brunt of many jokes online right now, from late night talk shows to Twitter. But the best come in the form of Tik Toks. Here are a few to laugh at, like Democrats trying to explain the red portions of the state, to our slow counts, to the giddiness of unopposed newly elected people

PICK A BAGEL: I'm a bit of a bagel snob. And a lox snob. So when I read this article on where to find the best bagels and lox in Philly it got me thinking: What are the best bagels in the rest of the state? Turns out, you can find some ding-dang good boiled bread across the state. I'll contest a blueberry cream cheese, though. The New Yorker in me will always shun you for eating that nonsense. 

A GOOD NEIGHBOR: People are being pretty nasty to one another online right now. Since it's a tall ask to request that you all step back from your screens for a bit, why not lean into this feel-good piece about how a house fire in the Lehigh Valley got a whole neighborhood to pitch in and help one woman get a haircut

NO JUDGMENT: According to this extremely scientific study, Pennsylvanians really love pumpkin spice, although not as much as New Hampshire or West Virginia. You won't find any judgment here. I enjoy pumpkin spice as much as the next person, although mainly in beer form.
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. If you love the scrambler, make a donation and we'll TRIPLE it.

Yesterday's answer: Fluorescent

Congrats to our daily winners: Thomas B., Irene K., Beth T., Susan D., Irene R., Gail H., Elijah R., Lynne E., Edward M., Kim C., Dianne K., Craig W., Mary Ellen T., Ron P., John C., Craig E., Carol D., George S., Heidi B., Patricia R., David W., Robert S., Lynne P., David I., Joel S., and Chris W.
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