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How an election skeptic became a believer

Plus, will Pa. Senate back university funding bill?

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Friday, November 3, 2023
In today's edition: 2020 vision, school money, unusual partnership, political background, learning losses, and bringing home the Kevin Bacon.

Jay Schneider of Chester County had doubts about the 2020 election, like a lot of his fellow conservatives. He said those concerns were piqued after he received multiple mail ballots — an error seen in other Pennsylvania locations that year, but one officials said wouldn't allow for extra votes.

Unlike most skeptics, though, Schneider decided to see election administration for himself, becoming a poll worker and now a judge of elections in a township near his county's geographic center.

With last year's midterms under his belt, he says he's confident the kind of major fraud that was so widely discussed in 2020 just isn't possible.

Read his full account, via Votebeat and Spotlight PA: Working the polls cleared up Jay Schneider’s suspicions. Now he’s taking charge.

THE CONTEXT: Schneider, 76, said his distrust faded as he witnessed the election machinery and related trainings in action. 

He said he was particularly struck by the requirement that two workers sign off on each step of counting a single mail ballot.

“At least in this county at the polling places, and seeing [central count], that’s really locked down,” he said. “If I talk about it [to others], I say I think it’s virtually impossible to make any significant changes to what's going on. I don't see how you could make any changes, to tell you the truth.”


"I think a good medium-sized bear. ... You know, I've watched those bears. First of all, they're lazy. They don't look like they're in shape."

—GOP candidate for U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, David McCormick, when asked "What is the biggest animal you think you can take?"; Pennsylvania Democrats were quick to seize on his pronunciation of Yuengling
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At Spotlight PA, we put voters front and center in our nonpartisan election coverage. Get all the information you need to make an informed vote this November by visiting our Election Center website

» See how judges affect you and the issues you care about most

» Pa. Supreme Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more

» Complete guide to the candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court

» Pa. Superior Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more

» Pa. Commonwealth Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more

» Complete guide to the candidates for Commonwealth, Superior Courts

» What to know about the judicial retention questions on Pa. ballots

» Who is Judge Jack Panella, and what is judicial retention?

» Who is Judge Victor Stabile, and what is judicial retention?

» Complete guide to who is on the ballot, when to vote & more 

» Everything you need to know about using a mail ballot 

» Elecciones Pa. 2023: Traducciones al Español

» RESULTS REVIEW: Join us, the New Pennsylvania Project, and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 6-7 p.m. for a Q&A on the election results. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.


A work of art spotted on a walk in Delaware County, submitted by Bill M.
Have a Pennsylvania photo you want to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A spiral of multicolored leaves arranged on the forest floor.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.SENATE BUY-IN? Hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding for four high-profile universities has cleared the state House, but its future is far from guaranteed in the state Senate, Spotlight PA reports: Skepticism from state Senate Republicans over the measure’s proposed spending boost and outright opposition from one school to a legislatively mandated tuition freeze leaves the issue far from resolved.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND: Touting a first-of-its-kind agreement, the Shapiro administration says it will work with natural gas producer CNX Resources to collect data on air emissions and water quality at well sites, the AP reports. A release from Shapiro's office says the monitoring will happen at two well sites before, during, and after drilling, calling it the most intensive independent study of fracking in the nation

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.CRIMINAL HISTORY: Duane Borchick is running for Borough Council in McAdoo, Schuylkill County on Nov. 7 and openly discussing the 1992 murder case that saw him and his then-wife imprisoned for the death of their three-year-old son, The Standard-Speaker (paywall) reports. It's unclear he can serve if he wins given Pennsylvania's "infamous crimes" restriction. Borchick said he was allowed to run before. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.'MISSISSIPPI MIRACLE': Pennsylvania lawmakers are eyeing rules that would require more aggressive interventions by schools if students fall behind in reading, pointing to the large share of fourth-grade students here who are currently below targets and the success reported with similar measures in Mississippi, WESA reports. But other states with the same policies in place have seen smaller bumps.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.ILLEGAL SIGNS: Democrats in Bucks County will be allowed to remove campaign signs targeting their candidates for five school board seats in the Central Bucks School District. The Courier Times (paywall) reports Judge Jeffrey Trauger granted a preliminary injunction sought by the Bucks County Democratic Committee, saying any signs lacking the legally required “paid for by” language can come down.
🏆 SEVEN QUESTIONS: Stay on top of the news this week? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Old election rules, 'illegal tax,' high-rank resignation, and claim to veep fame.

ALT TEXTS: Public Opinion reports unearthed text messages between the team behind Arizona's discredited 2020 election audit suggest they didn't trust a key Pennsylvania ally, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin). "He seems nice but is dirty," pro-Trump lawyer Stefanie Lambert wrote.

SANTOS SPARED: 31 Democrats voted against expelling embattled U.S. Rep. George Santos (R., NY) this week, while more than 24 Republicans voted yes. Pennsylvania's GOP "yes" votes: Brian Fitzpatrick, Dan Meuser, Lloyd Smucker. Lone Democratic "no": Chris Deluzio

BEER BUBBLE: PennLive (paywall) is the latest news outlet to ponder the future of Pennsylvania's crowded craft beer scene, noting at least a half-dozen midstate craft brewers have called it quits this fall. It's happening in Philadelphia too, where three closed in as many weeks.

COURTROOM THEATER: Pitt is offering an Applied Improv for Lawyers class. Third-year law student Emma Ryan told The Pitt News, “The skills related to theatre and lawyering have a surprising amount of crossover." 

BRING HOME THE BACON: How do you catch a runaway pig named Kevin Bacon? His Gettysburg owners say with a Benadryl-laced sticky bun and an urgent plea from its famous, Philadelphia-native namesake.

Note: Clocks fall back Sunday; Pennsylvania hasn't changed that yet.

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