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Officials fear Pa.'s not ready for 2024 election misinfo

Plus, road work with 'Band-Aids and duct tape.'

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Wednesday, January 3, 2024
In today's edition: Official concerns, Philly emergency, Perry challenge, water attacks, bad roads, prison perils, and staying dry this January.  

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The 2024 presidential election is just over 300 days away and Pennsylvania election officials are worried that the commonwealth is unprepared for a wave of misinformation that may rival the last one.

The people who run elections in counties across Pennsylvania say the commonwealth must prepare to be at the center of national scrutiny. 

They're urging an update of our century-old Election Code (which is filled with archaic provisions), long-sought adjustments to mail-voting processes, and steps to strengthen the system against bogus fraud claims.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: As 2024 election approaches, voting officials worry Pa. isn’t prepared for misinformation.

"Our numbers of deceased because we have longer response times — patients are unresponsive for longer — deaths from this are growing like crazy."

—Tyler Bender, of Elk County EMS, on the impacts of the opioid epidemic as rural EMS agencies lose workers; rural drug users are more likely to die from overdoses than urban ones, according to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania

Where the Allegheny River begins in Potter County, via Karen A. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A small stream surrounded by weeds and brush, as seen from an overpass above.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.CRIME PLAN: Philly's new mayor, Democrat Cherelle Parker, will declare a public safety emergency and compel the creation of "comprehensive plans" to address public safety citywide and add police, WPVI reports. Addressing crime was a cornerstone of her campaign.
  • RELATED: Kenyatta Johnson named Philly City Council president 14 months after corruption acquittal, via Billy Penn.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.INSURRECTION CLAUSE: A Harrisburg activist is using the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause in an effort to get U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) removed from 2024 ballots, WHTM reports. The same clause saw Donald Trump barred from ballots in two states.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
HARD WATER: An Iranian-linked cyberattack on Aliquippa's water authority is raising federal alarms. But years of congressional inaction, steep costs, and scarce experts have some utilities unsure that they can muster the necessary defenses, via the AP.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.ROAD MONEY: As U.S. states turn to short-term fixes for aging roadways — "Band-Aids and duct tape," as one transportation official described it — Pennsylvania is doing "creative accounting" to shift more money to maintenance, Stateline reports.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.JAIL WATCH: Pastor and activist Justin Douglas' November election win gave Democrats control of Dauphin County for the first time in 100 years. Bolts reports he's setting his sights on the county's troubled jail, where more than 18 people have died since 2019.
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania by donating to Spotlight PA today. The future of local news is in your hands.
DRY JANUARY: If you're going dry (read: alcohol-free) for January in Pittsburgh, let City Paper be your mocktail and near-beer guide

SOBER BAR: There's a Philly bar that's always alcohol-free. The Volstead says business is good this time of year. Experts say that's healthy.

TEETOTAL TOWNS: Pennsylvania is still home to plenty of dry municipalities, some dating back to the 19th century. 

SNOW NEWS: This weekend could bring a major snowstorm. The big question mark: Will it be cold enough or will it be rain?

PA POEM: Using Scranton as his muse, poet Jay Parini has penned a new piece called "A Pennsylvania Journal," via WPSU.
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. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.
Yesterday's answer: Chronological

Congrats to our daily winners: Jane R., Cynthia M., Don H., Eric F., Rebecca M., Elaine C., Craig E., Richard A., Barbara F., Becky C., Stacy S., Jon W., Marty M., Kimberly D., Bob C., Susan N.-Z., Kim C., Alan B., Daniel S., James B., Daniel M., Rick W., Wendy A., William Z., Dennis M., Jeffrey F., Marie B., John P., David W., Dan A., Cosette J., Stanley J., Tom M., Christina M., and Robert D.
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