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Everything you need to know for today's primary

Plus, more scrutiny of opioid settlement spending.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Voter guide, about-face, public safety, drug money, RGGI study, and a cyber attack hits Pennsylvania's largest newspaper. Today is primary day.
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It's primary day in Pennsylvania, and voters are heading to the polls to cast their ballots for statewide judicial seats, local positions such as county commissioner and school board member, and two special state House races with control of the lower chamber on the line.

Some races could be called by tonight, depending on how close they are, though the counting of every ballot is set to last longer, especially with a precanvassing law still out of reach despite years of urgent appeals.

If you already cast your vote by mail, check to see if your county has a list, like this one from Philadelphia, identifying voters who need to correct errors on their ballot in order for it to be counted, a process known as ballot curing.

For everything else, read Spotlight PA's primary day rundown: All the information you need for the 2023 primary election.

THE SPECIALS: Under Pennsylvania's closed-primary system, voters can choose candidates in a party's primary only if they are registered to that party. However, third party or unaffiliated voters can weigh in on ballot referendums and special elections that coincide with a primary election.

There are two special elections taking place today. 

One is to replace former state Rep. Mike Zabel (D., Delaware), who resigned following accusations of sexual harassment, in the Philly suburbs' 163rd Legislative District. The other is in the reliably-red 108th Legislative District in the Susquehanna Valley, which was held by former state Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver (R., Northumberland) who's now a state senator.

The 163rd District contest could decide control of the state House, which Democrats currently hold by a one-seat margin. The district's partisan makeup means Democrats are still favored to win, but the party is leaving little to chance, with high-profile endorsements of Democrat Heather Boyd coming from Gov. Josh Shapiro and even President Joe Biden

Keep scrolling for more Spotlight PA election info and coverage, including guides to the primary contests for key state judicial seats.
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"The reason I'm not running is because people are coming to our meetings, elected to our boards, who want to implement religion and politics into it."

Elizabethtown Area School Board President Terry Seiders on deciding not to seek reelection after receiving death and arson threats; LNP has more on the wave of school board bids this year driven by "a panic over books"
» How to vote, where to vote, and everything else you need to know

» How Spotlight PA will cover Pa.'s 2023 primary election

» How to request, fill out, and return your mail ballot

» How to vote, find your polling place, understand mail ballots

» A guide to vetting candidates for school board, judge, and more

» A guide to the Commonwealth, Superior Court candidates

» A guide to the Pa. Supreme Court candidates

» High court candidates with party backing show fundraising edge
» Los candidatos a la Corte de la Commonwealth y Cortes Superiores

» Guía completa de los candidatos a la Corte Suprema del Estado

» Una guía completa para el día de las elecciones primarias de Pa.

» Una guía básica para investigar a los candidatos a la junta escolar

» Todo lo que necesitas saber para votar por correo

Apoye ahora la cobertura electoral de servicio público de Spotlight PA.

POLICING VS. TREATMENT: Join us Thursday, May 25 at 6 p.m. ET for a free panel on how Pa. wants to spend a $1B opioid settlement, the policing versus treatment debate, and how Pennsylvania's spending plans compare to other states'. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org

Your primary day moment of zen, via @jan.schwartz3. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A closeup of a baby duck on water.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.GOP SHIFT: PennLive (paywall) says an about-face on mail voting by the GOP may already be having an impact. State data show a 4.9% increase in the number of registered Republicans who applied for a mail or absentee ballot in this primary compared to last year's. Meanwhile, two GOP state Supreme Court candidates are signaling disapproval of Pennsylvania's expanded mail-voting law.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CRIME WATCH: Likely decisive Democratic primaries for Philadelphia mayor and Allegheny County executive happen today. In a contest where gun violence has affected campaign workers, HuffPost reports Philly's Democratic mayoral candidates are taking divergent approaches. In Allegheny County, public safety has shaped campaign messaging, but Dem voters want solutions that go beyond more cops.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.NO PURGE: The conservative activists at Judicial Watch are cheering a legal settlement with Pennsylvania and five counties— Cumberland, Luzerne, Washington, Indiana, and Carbon — they say will lead to public reporting of voter roll clean-up efforts for five years, The Sentinel reports, while opponents are declaring victory because the settlement stops short of the voter roll purges Judicial Watch wanted.

FUND FOLOToday's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.: Spotlight PA and WESA reported last month on the policing-versus-treatment debates surrounding Pennsylvania's $1 billion share of a historic settlement with opioid companies — the subject of this free, virtual event on May 25. Similar scrutiny is happening in other states, where KFF Health News and CNN report some communities are using the funds to pay down debt, raising alarms.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.RGGI STUDY: Pennsylvania would see new revenue, faster greenhouse gas emission cuts, and faster renewable energy adoption under the carbon-capping Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, says a study by UPenn's Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and Resources for the Future, a research nonprofit. GOP lawmakers are contesting entry and Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro has yet to commit.
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CYBER ATTACK: The Philadelphia Inquirer spent Monday working to restore print operations following an election week "cyber attack." The AP calls it the most significant disruption to the paper's operations in decades. Similar attacks have hit papers before in Pennsylvania and other states.

STRAY STORY: Police in Ambridge, Beaver County, are explaining after officers shot a stray dog the department initially called "a pleasant pup." The department said the animal, a bullmastiff, became aggressive when they tried to move it from a holding pen to the local humane society.

MINE FIRES: Poynter breaks down how Allentown's WFMZ news station investigated some of the forgotten underground mine fires still burning in Pennsylvania. There are over a dozen active now.

MUNA CITY: When indie-pop trio MUNA comes to town, The Inquirer (paywall) says Philadelphia’s queer community gathers for an experience that is so queer-centric many have taken to calling it "gay church."

'STEEL KING': A Brooklyn steelmaker will announce a $218 million plant at a former tin mill in Aliquippa today. 72 Steel chose the Pittsburgh area because it wants to create "a brand image of American Chinese steel king."

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 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Martyrdom

Congrats to our daily winners: Stacy S., Bob C., Craig W., John P., Lynne E., Susan D., Susan N.-Z., Eric F., Kimberly D., Don H., Starr B., Jon W., Barbara F., Chuck M., Daniel S., Vicki U., Dan A., Elaine C., Kim C., Kim C., Wendy A., Jane R., Dennis M., Vanessa J., David W., Mary S., Beth H., Dianne K., Stanley J., Elizabeth W., Karen W., James B., Tom M., Nancy S., Craig E., and William Z.
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