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GOP fraud probe pushes riskier voter vetting

Plus, Pa. Columbus statues literally shrouded in controversy.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
October 11, 2021
Vetting voters, legal entry, pipeline pollution, ethics complaint, MAGA candidate, rare lawsuit, and Mikey Stacks eyes a comeback. It's Monday.
With Republicans in the state Senate looking to vet millions of Pennsylvania voters as part of a contested election review, Spotlight PA and Votebeat report the state has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the same kind of analysis Republicans say they're seeking.

It's a reality the Republicans behind the election review have so far failed to acknowledge, despite the state spending $403,904 over the past six years to access a sophisticated — and more secure — voter list maintenance program that helps find and remove outdated registrations.

The maintenance program, known as the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, was created by a group of seven states to address the daily changes in voter registrations as people move, die, and change their names.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania joined the consortium in 2015 and is now one of 30 member states plus Washington, D.C. that contribute data to improve the quality of their individual voter rolls.

Asked how the GOP's taxpayer-funded probe would differ from the voter list maintenance the state already pays for, state Sen. Cris Dush (R., Jefferson) didn't answer but noted discrepancies in less than 1% of voter registrations that were highlighted in a 2019 state auditor general report.

Meanwhile, security experts are warning against the GOP's current plan to share personal information for millions of voters with a third-party vendor, noting the superior security features built into the ERIC system.

"Postmaster General DeJoy's plan to transform the Postal Service will impact mail delivery for everyone in Pennsylvania and across the nation." 

—Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on the filing of a formal complaint urging a review of the USPS' austerity-inspired service cuts
COVID-19 NEWS: Pennsylvania saw "significantly more" breakthrough infections last month; CDC data show more people are getting booster shots than first or second doses; and Pennsylvania officials want vaccination clinics in schools if more children become eligible. To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
A gorge-ous view of the Kinzua Viaduct, facing the famed Kinzua Skywalk on the opposite side, courtesy of @pabucketlistSend us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
LEGAL CHALLENGE: The Democratic National Committee has asked to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Pennsylvania Republicans who are looking to roll back the 2019 state law that expanded mail voting here — a law many of those same Republicans supported at the time. NBC News says the lawsuit is moving quickly, prompting the DNC's involvement.

JURY REPORT: New details are emerging from the grand jury investigation that led to dozens of criminal charges regarding Pennsylvania's contested Mariner East pipeline system. TribLIVE reports the jury's 64-page indictment says the operators damaged water sources and "criminally failed" to report and resolve related hazards.

MONEY MOVES: A new ethics complaint alleges U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Butler) spent more than $100,000 from his leadership PAC on luxury trips, transportation, and dining in violation of federal law, City Paper reports. Kelly recently dismissed a reporter's questions about such travel and is facing a separate ethics probe for a red-flagged stock buy.

MAGA MAN: Teddy Daniels is a MAGA Republican, former cop, and Afghanistan War veteran who's running for U.S. Congress in a Democrat-held NEPA House district. He was also a speaker at Rod of Iron Ministries' "Freedom Festival" in Greeley over the weekend, where VICE says he rejoined others who were at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

MEDICAL SUIT: A rare U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against UPMC and one of its star surgeons "stunned national experts who say such cases have largely disappeared" since a Boston scandal involving a similar case six years ago, the Post-Gazette reports. The UPMC suit alleges the surgeon sacrificed patient health to increase surgical volume
DAY SHIFT: President Joe Biden has declared today Indigenous Peoples' Day in America, "lending the most significant boost yet to efforts to refocus" the Columbus Day holiday, per the AP. Meanwhile, Columbus statues in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh remain literally shrouded in controversy.

STACK'S BACK: After time spent following his acting dreams out west, former Lt. Gov. Mike Stack is back in Philadelphia and eyeing a possible special election for his old state Senate seat, The Inquirer reports.

NEW NOD: Pennsylvania's first historical marker for a Latino or Latina person has been unveiled in Philadelphia in honor of civil rights activist Gloria Casarez, whose local tributes have been repeatedly desecrated, per Billy Penn.

RABBIT TRACKS: John Updike's childhood home in Shillington was also given a state historical marker — this one dedicated in a ceremony attended by the late author's children and classmates, Reading Eagle reports.

BUMP UP: Tired of waiting for the city to install traffic calming measures on their block, residents of Pittsburgh's North Side bought a speed bump on Amazon and installed it themselves, WPXI reports. Tactical urbanism FTW.
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.
Friday's answer: Arboretum (also accepted: Tambourer)

Congrats to our weekly winner: Yvette R.

Congrats to our daily winners: Johhno S., Don H., Neal W., Ted W., Susan D., Michelle T., Bette G., Barbara F., Becky C., Craig E., Alan V., Kimberly S., Al M., Susan F., Elaine C., Kevin H., David W., Judith D., Irene R., David I., Eddy Z., Tim B., Craig W., Lewis M., Bill S., Dianne K., John P., James B., Tish M., Fred O., and Elizabeth W.
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