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County must tally rejected 2023 primary ballots, judge says

Plus, Norristown's homelessness response faces U.N. rebuke.

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Monday, September 25, 2023
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Court decision, global scrutiny, 'official oppression,' McCormick money, fracking zones, and it's Yom Kippur. Help us continue this vital work by supporting Spotlight PA & your gift will be DOUBLED.
Delaware County must count in-person ballots cast by voters whose mail ballots it rejected for technical errors during May's primary, a court ruled. 

The Court of Common Pleas decision, which the county says it welcomes even though it lost, follows the county's board of elections deciding not to accept provisional ballots cast in person by voters who had already been told their mail ballots were rejected due to technical defects.

Read Spotlight PA and Votebeat's full report: Judge tells Pa. county to accept in-person votes from residents with flawed mail ballots.

THE CONTEXT: The county cited confusion stemming from an apparent conflict around provisional ballots in the state election code. 

But Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Whelan, erring on the side of voter enfranchisement, said the law must be “liberally construed” so as to “protect the elective franchise.”

His ruling, which applies only to Delaware County, was welcomed by the voters who sued over rejected provisional ballots there. 
“Shapiro’s eagerness to pick up Wolf’s mantle of running roughshod over legislative powers is disappointing."
—The Pa. House chapter of the conservative Freedom Caucus vowing legal action against Gov. Josh Shapiro's DMV-voter registration update
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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 September by visiting our Election Center website

» Complete guide to the candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court

» Complete guide to the candidates for Commonwealth, Superior Courts

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

» Una guía de los candidatos a la Corte Suprema del estado

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» STORY FEST: Spotlight PA is participating in Philly Story Fest, a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together storytellers from across the city on one stage. Join us Thursday, Oct. 5 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bok building in South Philadelphia (1901 South 9th St.). Tickets are $25 and available here.

» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are on sale at this link until sold out.

» ELECTION 101: Join Spotlight PA’s government reporters Kate Huangpu and Stephen Caruso on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pa.’s 2023 judicial candidates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
Mist rising from Lake Luxembourg in Core Creek Park, Bucks County, via Yoma U. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
Mist rising from a lake in sunlight.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.FORMAL REBUKE: A hearing at the United Nations next month could yield a public rebuke of Norristown officials who, emails show, have refused federal funding for housing despite a growing homelessness problem there. The Inquirer (paywall) reports advocates want local officials "charged" for human rights violations. Findings wouldn't carry the weight of law but could shape court decisions.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.TROOPER CHARGED: A suspended state trooper is charged with official oppression, false imprisonment, assault, and other charges after investigators say he had a woman he was in an extramarital relationship with involuntarily committed for five days, all under false pretenses, via FOX43. Ronald Davis, 37, of Dauphin County claimed the woman told him she was suicidal. Prosecutors say that was a lie.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.HOME BASE: Ex-hedge fund CEO David McCormick emphasized his Pennsylvania roots in last week's kickoff of his latest U.S. Senate bid, all as questions about residency surround his nascent campaign. McCormick is looking to unseat longtime Democratic incumbent Bob Casey and enlisting a "who's who of Wall Street backers" for the big-money race. The GOP says it's unified behind him after early doubts.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
FRACK EFFECTS: A push for greater minimum distances between fracking wells and homes or schools has stalled in Harrisburg, PublicSource reports, as residents link headaches and other adverse health effects to nearby fracking activity. Kimberly Laskowsky of Washington County lives 850 feet from an EQT well pad and says high blood pressure and hundreds of migraines came with the drilling.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.

MONEY MAN: Staff for U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R., Pa.) documented many of his social events in April 2022, but not a meeting with a donor who served time in federal prison for fraud and conspiracy. LNP (paywall) reports Adam Kidan has put nearly $250,000 toward the Lancaster County congressman's campaigns and claims a steering committee role. Constituents could see it as a barrier to trust, one expert said.

Join Spotlight PA for an exclusive event on equity and voting. Get your tickets now.

TUITION FREEZE: TribLIVE reports the University of Pittsburgh is willing to freeze in-state tuition next year to secure a larger state subsidy. Pitt and other state-related schools are still waiting for this year's state funding, which has been held up by Republicans citing tuition costs and transparency.

  • RELATED: With ‘affirmative action’ out, Pittsburgh college applicants ask: Does race have a place?, via PublicSource

PRISON BREAK: Chester County will spend millions to fortify the prison Danelo Cavalcante escaped last month. NBC News reports the changes include more cameras, more staff, and covered rec areas.

MINKS UPDATE: There may not be thousands of minks on the loose in Northampton County after all. The Game Commission said the number is likely in the hundreds, per PennLive. More than 100 have been captured.

LOCAL CELEBRITY: Pat Benner of Hanover Township survived a 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids riot in Wilkes-Barre. Her account of the retail mayhem is featured in a new documentary on the toy craze: Billion Dollar Babies.

HUNGRY BIRDS: Bug-eating birds may be the secret in the war on spotted lanternflies (who maybe aren't as hungry as we feared). And scientists are watching another invasive Pennsylvania pest: the mysterysnail.

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.
Friday's answer: Conundrums

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