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What poll watchers can — and can't — do in PA

Plus, what's next for a major mail ballot ruling.

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Friday, March 29, 2024
Today: Poll watchers, state symbols, ballot ruling, messaging concerns, price transparency, ghost guns, and limited adoption. Enjoy the weekend. 
As the 2024 election heats up, voters in Pennsylvania may hear candidates talk about poll watchers.

Appointed by candidates or political parties, poll watchers can observe polling place setup, the voting process, and the counting of ballots. They are a longstanding feature of elections in Pennsylvania and around the country, and both major parties use them to guard against malfeasance.

But in 2020 they became the subject of mass scrutiny as former President Donald Trump made multiple false or misleading claims about them. 

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Elections 101: What to know about poll watchers, and what they can and can’t do in Pennsylvania

"As we shift to corporate ownership of state symbols, we need a system in place to have complete transparency that the disclosure forms would provide."

—State Rep. Brad Roae (R., Crawford) in a memo seeking support for a bill that would force lawmakers to disclose if they own stock in a company named a state symbol; the proposal responds to a vote to make Hershey's Kisses Pennsylvania's official candy.

Our popular 'Now Serving the Truth' aprons!

Don't go another dinner without showing your support of the truth and facts over nonsense. SHOP THE SALE NOW >
TRUSTING ELECTIONS: Join us Tuesday, April 2, at 6 p.m. ET on Zoom for a live panel Q&A with Al Schmidt, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of State, on creating trust in our election system and combatting misinformation. Register here and submit questions here or to events@spotlightpa.org

The Trostle barn with a cannonball hole in the wall in Gettysburg, via Don N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
Attached is a photo by Don Nigroni of the Trostle barn with a cannonball hole in the wall at Gettysburg, Adams County.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.RULING FALLOUT: The state is "reviewing potential next steps" in the wake of a ruling from a federal appeals court regarding handwritten dates and mail ballots. The court upheld a section of Pennsylvania's Election Code that requires voters to date an outer envelope that mail ballots are returned in. A lower court found the requirement violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
BALLOT CONCERNS: Dave McCormick, the Republican who wants to unseat U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) this fall, said during a phone call with other congressional campaigns that he's "really worried" about his party's stance on mail ballots, Politico reports. In particular, McCormick is concerned that former President Donald Trump's false claims that mail voting is inherently unsafe will harm his chances.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania. PRICE INFO: Most Pennsylvania hospitals aren't fully complying with a federal price transparency rule aimed at making sure patients can easily find procedure costs. The Inquirer (paywall) reports on an analysis by Patient Rights Advocate, which found that Philadelphia-area hospitals are publishing spreadsheets of prices but many are missing information. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.GHOST GUNS: With the support of three Republicans, the Democratic-controlled state House has passed a bill that would ban the purchase, sale, and production of “ghost guns," the Capital-Star reports. These guns are made from untraceable parts and lack serial numbers; according to the state House Democratic caucus, Philadelphia police confiscated 575 such weapons in 2022 — a 311% increase from 2019. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TECH LIMITS: Tech industry representatives say a bill under consideration in the Pennsylvania House to create special data protection standards for minors could potentially run afoul of the First Amendment, CNHI News reports. A representative from an online trade association noted that Pennsylvania's proposal mirrors a California law that was blocked by a federal judge. 
VISIBILITY DAY: Transgender people and their allies gathered in the Capitol to push back on efforts to restrict gender-affirming care and more.

THIS SUNDAY: The above was held to mark Transgender Day of Visibility, which is officially March 31. Philadelphia isn't holding its flag-raising event this year, but there are other ways to observe the day there.

ONE OF FOUR: Pennsylvania is one of only four states that have opened EV charging stations using money from a $5 billion federal program.

SHOW BIZ: ER's Noah Wyle will star in a new Pittsburgh-set medical drama, while the second season of American Rust — filmed in the Steel City — is airing now.

MILK BAN: The state agriculture department wants a judge to ban a Lancaster County farmer from selling raw milk to customers in other states; authorities claim at least two people have been sickened by Amos Millers' products.
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: Eagerness

Congrats to our daily winners: William G., Vicki U., Don H., Barbara F., Gabrielle G., Kimberly D., Bob C., Jon W., Stacy S., Elaine C., Al G., Jane R., Alan B., Ada M., Judith D., Janet S., Carol O., Jeff F., Bill Z., David W., Wendy A., David T., Malachy M., Susan N.-Z., and Tom M.
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