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Counties embrace e-pollbooks. Are they secure?

Plus, East Palestine burn questioned.

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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

Thursday, March 7, 2024
Today: Election electronics, consultant bills, support rescinded, chemical burn, money order, ACLU suit, and State of the Union guests.   

More Pennsylvania counties are turning to electronic pollbooks to maintain and review voter registration information during elections.

E-pollbooks, as they're known, replace the paper books that in-person voters generally see when they sign in at their polling place on Election Day. The differences are more significant behind the scenes, speeding up Election Day operations but also piquing cybersecurity concerns. 

Spotlight PA has an explainer on how they work, what counties are using them, and how they're protected against hacking.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Elections 101: What to know about electronic pollbooks, which Pa. counties use them, and more.


"You had absolutely no qualms about embarrassing me in front of other parents, faculty and children — why wouldn't I return the favor?"

—Erie County parent Sara Kim in an email to a school official she says retaliated over Facebook criticism; a free speech lawsuit has been filed

'All Sun, No Shade' Beach Towel

Get our limited edition towel in celebration of Sunshine Week, coming up March 10-16.

Promote government transparency & tan lines, all in support of Spotlight PA's vital journalism. SHOP THE PRE-SALE NOW >

BLACK WALL STREET: Join us TODAY from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on the history of Harrisburg’s Black Wall Street and the people working to preserve its legacy and ensure a future for Black-owned businesses. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org.


The Susquehanna River, as seen from the Enola Low Grade Trail  in Lancaster County by Anne H. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

An expansive view of water and rolling hills in the distance under a crisp blue sky.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.$1M BLUEPRINT: Consultants have been brought in to help fill in the gaps of Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's plan to reform and restructure Pennsylvania's public higher education system. PennLive (paywall) says the work will cost taxpayers nearly $1 million

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.DAMAGE CONTROL: U.S. Sens. John Fetterman and Bob Casey (D., Pa.) on Wednesday tried to explain why they dropped support for $1 million in federal funding for a Philly LGBTQ center targeted by U.S. House Republicans last year and Libs of TikTok more recently.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.TOXIC CLOUD: The controlled burn at last year's Norfolk Southern train crash in East Palestine, Ohio, never had to happen, a top federal transportation official said Wednesday, via Cleveland.com. The toxic cloud created by the burn engulfed this Pennsylvania town.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
CASH CONDITIONS: Opioid settlement cash is coming to Philadelphia, but Mayor Cherelle Parker's office says it won't be used it for clean syringe services, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. Critics say the shift puts "politics and optics" ahead of public health.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.CANVASS ACCESS: York County's Board of Elections is being sued by the ACLU for allegedly refusing to allow a member of the public to witness the canvass of November ballots. The suit says officials violated state law and argues access must be preserved.
PRIMETIME ADDRESS: President Joe Biden's State of the Union address starts tonight at 9. Philly's mayor will be there, and Philly City Councilor Nicolas O'Rourke will deliver the progressive response.

SOTU GUESTS: Scranton detective, a Butler podcast host, and an official from a Beaver County town bordering East Palestine, Ohio, will be among the guests of Pennsylvania lawmakers at tonight's State of the Union.

STAYING OPEN: The Monroeville Convention center lives on. The center's lease was going to be terminated to make way for a Hobby Lobby, but TribLIVE reports officials concerned about the impacts intervened.

THORPE FILM: NBA legend LeBron James' production company is working on a documentary about Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe, who was buried in the Carbon County, Pennsylvania, town that bears his name.

BEAR ATTACK: A Butler County woman is recovering from a bear attack outside her Butler Township home Tuesday night. The mother bear was euthanized and her three cubs were tranquilized and relocated. 
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: Apricity

Congrats to our daily winners: Stacy S., Craig E., and Lynne E.
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