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Why 1000s of PA ballots were rejected in April

Plus, a microcosm of the immigration divide.

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Today: Ballot busts, hot schools, overdose map, Krasner call, refugee capital, and a run on Red Lobster. Thanks for checking in.
Nearly 16,000 Pennsylvania mail ballots were rejected in April's primary, roughly half because of issues with the date, signature, or envelope.

And while officials
celebrate the number for being lower than those seen in past cycles, The Inquirer (paywall) notes it could be larger in November and big enough to shift the outcome in some races

Voting rights groups want all counties to adopt "notice and cure" policies that allow voters an opportunity to address mail ballot errors.

As Spotlight PA and Votebeat recently reported, the "notice and cure" process is a "major gray area in state law that leads to uneven rules for voters across Pennsylvania." The ACLU of Pennsylvania has sued one county over its approach and may file more cases going forward.

Spotlight PA will soon launch a new weekly newsletter focused on caregiving and caregivers across Pennsylvania. Every Tuesday, "How We Care" will feature original reporting and perspectives on how we care for one another at all stages of life, the huge economic and policy questions ahead, and how it's affecting the lives of millions of people across the state. You can sign up for How We Care here.
"Even though they'd previously been told that they could stay in school until they were 22, as federal law required."

—Claudia De Palma, of the Public Interest Law Center, on Commonwealth Court voiding a state rule that said schools must serve special education students until their 22nd birthday; an appeal was quickly filed
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SETTLEMENT STRATEGY: Join us Thursday, May 30, from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on how counties are using their opioid settlement funds, and what influences these decisions. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

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Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
'HEAT DAYS': It's May and 39 Pittsburgh school buildings are closed because of heat. Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro has proposed another $300 million for a related grant program in the next state budget. Meanwhile, applications for the state’s reimbursement fund for school construction — PlanCon — have been paused since 2016.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
BLEAK DATA: A state law requiring police to document any encounter they have with a person who accidentally overdosed on drugs coincided with a nearly 62% increase in the number of reported overdoses in Pennsylvania, from 4,703 in 2022 to 7,634 in 2023, Erie Times-News (paywall) reports — even with some agency data missing.
  • Walgreens selling a cheaper version of naloxone, via CNBC.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.PROTEST CHARGES: As Drexel threatens to clear its pro-Palestinian encampment, the AP reports Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, citing a lack of evidence, refused to pursue serious charges against four pro-Palestinian protesters University of Pennsylvania police said tried to occupy a building at that campus last week. Penn's commencement was held Monday with airport-style security, per WPVI.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
2024 MICROCOSM: "America's refugee capital," Lancaster, recently formalized a policy limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities, and that has made the city and surrounding county the embodiment of the nation's immigration divide — a key issue in this year's presidential contest, HuffPost reports.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
FEDERAL SUIT: Ninety years after Black teen Alexander McClay Williams was killed by Pennsylvania for a crime he did not commit, and more than a year after his exoneration, his family is suing. McClay Williams is the youngest person ever put to death here. The AP reports the suit seeks damages from Delaware County and the state.
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CASE UPDATE: A woman from Brookville has been sentenced to four to eight years in prison for shooting Cameron County's district attorney in the leg after a confrontation about a property transfer, the AP reports.

BEAVER STADIUM: Penn State's Board of Trustees has approved a $700 million overhaul of Beaver Stadium, one of the largest stadiums in the world by capacity. Here's what the finished product will look like.

THE END? An Erie County Red Lobster is the only Pennsylvania closure to date amid the company's bankruptcy. But Pennsylvania's top cop says if you've got a gift card or rewards points, now's the time to use them.

HARPER ASSIST: Bryce Harper helped a New Jersey high schooler with his promposal this week. All Jake Portello had to do was knock on the Philadelphia Phillies superstar's door and ask, per Bleacher Report.

PARTY PEOPLE: Pennsylvania is getting ready to celebrate America's 250th birthday with a new slogan, a sleepy-looking mascot, a website"Philly-centric" drama, and event lineups that are several years long.
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