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How luck decides name order on PA ballots

Plus, Shapiro launches task force to prep PA for 2024 election.

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Friday, March 1, 2024
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Today: Game of chance, election protection, college consolidation, malpractice cases, fracking emissions, rifle raffle, and York's rock museum. It's Friday.

Landing at the top of the ballot in Pennsylvania takes a little bit of luck. To determine how candidates are listed, Pennsylvania’s state department has them draw numbers from a bag.

The process, prescribed by the Election Code, ensures fairness when election officials select who gets the coveted top ballot position.

Studies show ballot placement can be a boost for candidates.

Other states determine candidates’ ballot positions in different ways. Some go by who filed their paperwork first. New Jersey goes by which candidates were endorsed by their party. 

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Ballot order is critical for candidates. In Pa., it’s determined by luck.


“It comes down to them deciding whether or not they're going to pick up their medication that their doctor prescribed or pay a medical bill or eat versus paying for water.”

—Julie Mechling, director of customer service at Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, on why some customers need affordable payment options.

'All Sun, No Shade' Beach Towel

Get our limited edition towel in celebration of Sunshine Week, coming up March 10-16.

Promote government transparency & tan lines, all in support of Spotlight PA's vital journalism. SHOP THE PRE-SALE NOW >

BLACK WALL STREET: Join us Thursday, March 7 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on the history of Harrisburg’s Black Wall Street and the people working to preserve its legacy and ensure a future for Black-owned businesses. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org.


The Fernery at Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, via Don N. Send us photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

various green trees along a stone path with a mini bridge in the back
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.THREAT WATCH: Gov. Josh Shapiro has created the Pennsylvania Election Threats Task Force to help protect the state during this year’s presidential contest, the AP reports. After the 2020 election, the state became a hotbed for false allegations of election fraud and lawsuits attempting to overturn Joe Biden's win.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.EDUCATION PLAN: Shapiro has revealed new details about his proposal to combine Pennsylvania’s community colleges and state-owned universities under one umbrella, saying it would entail more financial aid for students and some income-based tuition limits. The proposal, which WESA reports is still missing specifics, comes amid enrollment declines across Pennsylvania’s public schools.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.REAL-TIME REVIEW: A new EPA rule will give environmental regulators more accurate oversight of fracking companies in Pennsylvania by requiring drillers to install devices that provide real-time emissions data. The readings will allow excess emissions to be detected sooner, and enable more appropriate penalties, Inside Climate News reports. The agency is giving states two years to set up the devices.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
FREQUENT FILES: Philadelphia saw a rise in medical malpractice cases last year after a rule to help manage the court system's pandemic backlog took effect, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. The new rule allows malpractice cases to be filed in any county where a defendant has an office or clinic.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.BIG FINE: The Allegheny County Health Department issued a $1.991 million fine this week to U.S. Steel for violations at Clairton Coke Works, WESA reports. The agency charges the company with failing to properly operate equipment needed to prevent air pollution. U.S. Steel officials said they plan to appeal the order.  
🗞️ ARE YOU NEWSY? Let's find out with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Vetting 2024’s voting machines, Harrisburg haggling, and the Beyoncé effect.
AUTOBUS LAUNCH: The debut of a self-driving bus in Philly’s Navy Yard is drawing mixed reactions from bus drivers and residents. The drivers fear the technology endangers both their jobs and passengers. 

‘OFF TARGET’: A Pittsburgh youth sports group drew scrutiny for offering an AR-15 as a raffle prize. The group’s president defended the decision, saying he was “not sure what makes it inappropriate.” 

BOGO DOGS: Dollar Dog Nights are no more. The Phillies announced they will replace the 27-year-old promotion with a new one allowing fans to get two hot dogs for the price of one. 

ROCK MUSEUM: A York County record store doubles as a home for memorabilia collected by the owner, who has gathered items spanning decades and genres.

 RIDE RENOVATIONS: The Skyrush roller coaster at Hersheypark is getting fitted with a new platform, seats, and restraints for the coming season.
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: Limerick

Congrats to our daily winners: Stacy S., Jody A., Beth T., Vicki U., Jim H., Daniel M., John P., Marty M., Karen L., Becky C., Bob C., Kim C., Fran C., Jane R., Linda G., Don H., Kimberly D., Mike B., Elaine C., Sherri A., Barbara F., Jon W., Ellen G., Ted W., Richard A., Connie A., Mark O., Judith D., Lisa H., Karen W., Bruce B., Dan A., Janet S., Susan R., Jerry H., Alan B., Craig E., Stacie M., Ada M., Adrien M., Marie B., Leslie B., Rick W., Amelia M., Ed K., Stanley J., Rena Z., David T., William Z, Wendy A., Mike H., Dan E., Alexander G., Susan N., John C., Erik G., Tom M., Dee F., John A., Frederick H., Lynne E., David W., and Chris M. 
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