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

Your final guide to next week’s primary election


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
May 11, 2021
Primary primer, cyber attack, trans official, unemployment plea, bad air, health-share, and a boat meets Pennsylvania's roadwork season. It's Tuesday. 

There’s exactly one week left until the May 18 primary election in Pennsylvania, and Spotlight PA is here to help voters get up to speed quickly. 

Most of the choices will be made by registered Democrats and Republicans nominating their party's candidates for November's general election, including in a handful of judicial and municipal races.

But all voters, regardless of affiliation, will be asked to weigh in on four ballot questions, including two proposed constitutional amendments that could significantly shape Pennsylvania’s future response to disasters like the coronavirus pandemic.

Spotlight PA compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the controversial constitutional amendments on the ballot, the judicial races, and more.

THE CONTEXT: Mail ballot request forms for the primary must be received by your county election board by 5 p.m. today. You also have until 5 p.m. today to vote early in person by applying for a mail ballot at your county election office, filling it out, and returning it all in the same visit

If not, you’ll have to vote in person. Find your polling place here. Registration to vote in this primary closed May 3. 

Some counties allow voters to look up a sample ballot ahead of Election Day. If that’s not an option in your area, use the League of Women Voters’ Vote411 tool for statewide races.

WE CAN MAKE HISTORY: We're so close to setting a new monthly record of support for Spotlight PA's hard-hitting and non-partisan investigative journalism. And we've been challenged to cross the finish line strong, with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism offering yet another $5,000 if we hit $25,000.

We can do this together if you make a contribution of any amount now.

In every community across our state, Pennsylvanians are reading our investigative journalism and stepping up with their support to ensure it can continue — and be made available as a free public service to everyone.

During the past few days alone, more than 470 of your friends and neighbors have supported the essential accountability reporting that Spotlight PA produces like no one else. Now is the time to do your part and join the effort.

If you're a fan of PA Post, will you pay it forward and support Spotlight PA's vital journalism today? Contribute now and your gift will be DOUBLED »»

» THANK YOU to the 41 people who contributed to our Spring membership drive Monday.

"I don't know that money can ever make up for things like not being able to say goodbye to your loved one, but it's our society's only way of doing that."

—Kathleen Ryan, of the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association, on COVID-19 funeral reimbursements requested by 7,000 Pennsylvanians

VACCINE UPDATE: The FDA has approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15. If also approved by the CDC as expected this week, the shot could be distributed to adolescents almost immediately. For vaccine providers, check Spotlight PA's map and county-by-county listing.
» BE PREPARED: Everyone — regardless of political affiliation — can vote May 18 on four ballot questions. Here's a breakdown of each one. Plus, WHYY has a great primer on the appellate court judge candidates. We'll have more resources in the days and weeks ahead.
A field of tulips found at Brown Hill Farms in Wyoming County. Thanks, Bette G.Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us at @spotlightpennsylvania.
PIPELINE RANSOM: A rare emergency declaration has been issued for Pennsylvania and 16 other states after a cyber attack shut down a pipeline carrying 45% of fuel supplies to the East Coast. The order lifts restrictions on fuel transport by road to prevent shortages following the Friday attack on the Colonial Pipeline by a Russian ransomware group. Fuel prices will see larger impacts the longer the outage continues, per CNN.

DOCTOR LEVINE: Pennsylvania's former health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, is now the highest-ranking openly trans person to ever serve in federal government, telling The New York Times of anti-trans legislation being pushed in states like Pennsylvania, "It's political — some people feel that this could be a wedge issue." Yesterday, President Joe Biden restored health-care protections for trans people undone by Trump

UNEMPLOYMENT OUTAGE: Advocates want Pennsylvania to postpone an update of its unemployment computer system currently planned for June, warning of further disruptions on top of a massive backlog of pandemic-era claims, per WESA. The update will include a temporary "blackout," which worries some observers after periods of clerical chaos for the system and the people who rely on it.

ASTHMA EFFECTS: A new study confirms people living near a U.S. Steel plant in Clairton experienced worse asthma during a 100-day pollution control system outage that unleashed "an unprecedented amount" of an asthma-triggering pollutant. The Pitt-led study looked at asthma symptoms for 83 people following a 2018 Christmas Eve fire that caused the control system outage, TribLIVE reports. 

HEALTH PLAN: The formation of a regional health department is being considered by seven Pennsylvania counties that weathered the pandemic without one of their own. Leaders in Washington County say they're frustrated with the state Department of Health's handling of the crisis, via the Post-Gazette.

LEHIGH VALLEY PRIDE: The building housing Stonewall Lehigh Valley is up for sale, putting the future of the seminal Allentown gay bar very much in question. Lehigh Valley Live reports it's the last bar or nightclub of its kind in the area. Remembrances are being collected here.

OFF AIR: Controversial conservative media personality Wendy Bell has been taken off the air by another Pittsburgh media company, City Paper reports. WJAS's owners didn't explain the move, only saying it involves a personnel matter. Bell came to WJAS from KDKA Radio, which cut ties in September after Bell urged park rangers to shoot people who deface monuments.

AD BREAK: WHYY's Ryan Briggs has a Twitter rundown of Republican Philadelphia DA candidate Chuck Peruto’s unusual longform campaign ad, "where [he] pretends to be high on weed ... and talks about restructuring the PPD so they report to the DA instead of the mayor." The Inquirer has more on Peruto's improbable, "head-turning" bid

PULL CANDY: Retired West Virginia coal miner Joe Parcell has a recipe for Appalachian pull candy, sometimes called cream pull candy or Kentucky pull candy, that you won't find on Google. "I make it look easy, but it's not," he told West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

ON A BOAT: A New Hampshire-bound cruise boat (traveling via truck) has been stuck in southwestern Pennsylvania for weeks, WMUR reports. A construction project forced the boat off its planned route and onto too-small roads. It's been sitting outside a Pennsylvania welcome center near the West Virginia border since.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Yesterday's answer: Magnificent

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Mary Ellen T., Becky C., Dixie S., Irene R., Neal W., Maureen G., Susan D., Barbara F., David I., Bill C., Michelle T., Linda T., Christine M., Don G., Elaine C., Russellen C., Adrien M., Chris M., Diane P., Jill A., Mike B., Joan S., Christine M., Al M., Jill M., Elizabeth W., Theodore W., Brandie K., Eileen B., Beth T., Carol D., Dennis M., Heidi B., George S., Meg M., Mark C., Guy M., Mike H., Thomas B., Kevin H., Tish M., Kim C., James B., Geoff M., Jimmy N., Patricia R., Dianne K., Don H., Myles M., Jeff M., Betsy R., David W., Karen W., Catherine J., Suzanne S., Bob A., Damon D., Chris R., Laura B., Eddy Z., Brian M., Sue B., Joel S., Craig E., Joe A., George W., Anne R., Bob R., Mike B., Bernice C., Kate P., and Yvette R.
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.