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Appeal aims to count 1000s of at-risk PA ballots

Plus, top PA election official takes your questions.

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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Thursday, April 11, 2024
Today: Date case, political fortunes, economic segues, job numbers, before the court, state surveys, and 'Dracula's apartment.' 

Voting rights groups led by the NAACP are appealing a federal court ruling that could prevent thousands of Pennsylvania mail ballots from being counted in November because the ballots lack a proper date.

The plaintiffs are seeking an opinion from the full Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals following last month's ruling by a three-judge panel. 

The panel’s 2-1 decision found that a state law requiring mail voters to handwrite a date on the return envelope did not violate a provision of the Civil Rights Act meant to guard against voter disenfranchisement.

The matter won't be resolved in time for the April 23 primary, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said. The case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read Spotlight PA and Votebeat's full report: Voting rights groups appeal ruling that directs Pa. to reject undated mail ballots.

More election coverage from Spotlight PA: 

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"To say the way we did it was somehow wrong or not dignified is really saying our children are somehow less human."

—Douglas Metcalfe of Berks County, who had two children with his husband via surrogacy, on the Vatican calling the option a "threat to human dignity"


ROW RACES: Join us TODAY from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a live guide to Pa.’s candidates for attorney general, auditor general, and treasurer and how their terms would impact you. Register here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.

BROKEN PRIMARIES: Join us Friday, April 19 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a Spotlight PA members-only event with Nick Troiano, author of The Primary Solution, a new book on how our partisan primaries are fueling the political divide in America and what we can do about it.

Become a Spotlight PA member here and you'll be automatically registered for the event.
The total eclipse, as seen from PA State Game Lands 154 in Erie County and shared by Jim B. of Hershey. Have a photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
A total solar eclipse in the sky surrounded by light clouds.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.BIG MONEY: Pennsylvania's richest man, Jeff Yass, is the biggest individual political contributor so far in the 2024 election cycle, with $46 million to federal candidates, CNBC reports. His money is also boosting free market-favoring, libertarian-minded groups that work to steer U.S. politics and advocate for policies that would benefit him.
  • U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D., Pa.) responds to Yass-linked PAC's attack ads accusing her of 'opposing Biden,' via Axios.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.POWER DOWN: With coal-fired power plants winding down in Pennsylvania, StateImpact traveled to Washington state, where one operator agreed to a $55 million community fund to soften the economic blow. No such deal has been announced here, and Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro hasn't said how revenue from his cap-and-trade alternative would help energy communities in transition.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
JOBS REPORT: America’s employers added 303,000 jobs to their payrolls in March, far above what economists had forecast, the AP reports. In Pennsylvania, the Independent Fiscal Office says data show government, food service, and health care sectors "generated all year-over-year Pennsylvania payroll job gains for 2024."

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.RENT CONTROL: Pittsburgh's yearslong effort to create a citywide rental registry and protect tenants from absentee landlords went before the state's Supreme Court this week. But WESA reports at least one justice wondered if the city's original, toothier approach might be undone by a compromise bill it enacted as a placeholder.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
PA CHECKUPS: Pennsylvania's Department of Health is asking Pennsylvanians who live near the site of last year's Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio to take follow-up health surveys this month. They're available online. Grant-backed Pitt researchers are also headed to the area to study the impacts.
ON THE MOVE: A bill that would require insurance coverage of telehealth services in Pennsylvania cleared the state House Wednesday and is headed to the Senate. Abortion debates derailed previous efforts.

APPLY NOW: Starting today, student teachers in Pennsylvania can apply for up to $15,000 in state stipends. Capital-Star reports lawmakers want even more funding for the grants next year amid a teacher shortage.

BAD BRIDGES: Point: Joe Biden's former chief of staff thinks the president is too focused on fixing actual bridges. Counterpoint: Here's a look at the poor condition of bridges in this key swing state, via Axios.

POT POLICY: Possession of small amounts of cannabis has not been decriminalized in North York. A mayoral veto has been upheld.

PENTHOUSE ENVY: This Philadelphia apartment was the talk of the town on X (formerly Twitter) Wednesday. It's at least $6,700 per month. 
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: Woebegone

Congrats to our daily winners: Vicki U., Mike B., Jody A., Ted W., Marty M., Jane R., Barbara F., Stacy S., Bob C., Beth H., Kevin M., Bruce B., Jon W., Daniel M., Karen P., Karen W., David T., Richard A., Alan B., Connie A. O., Don H., Eric F., Malachy M., Gabrielle G., Rick W., Marie B., Kim C., Judith D., Susan N.-Z., Ronnee G., Kimberly D., Janet S., Michael T., Kelly P., Karyl S., Joyce C., Julie K., Mike H., Leslie B., Stanley J., Tom M., Adrien M., Tish M., Wendy A., John P., John H., William Z., Giovanni C., Lauren B.-K., Jeffrey F., Daniel S., Sharon B., Lynne E., Robert S., Mary S., and Jessamyn B.
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