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What you need to know about using a mail ballot

Plus, day one of the Krasner public hearings.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
September 30, 2022
Mail voting, Krasner case, voter data, prison sentence, wilting vineyards, bidding wars, and the end of 'Radio Times.' It's Friday.
🎁 FINAL HOURS: Until midnight tonight, all gifts in support of Spotlight PA's vital election coverage will be *DOUBLED* as a bonus to close out our Autumn Member Drive and end September strong.

Don't miss this final chance to power the best election reporting in Pennsylvania and have your impact go twice as far.


Pennsylvania’s general election will give registered voters in the state the chance to pick the next governor and U.S. senator as well as U.S. House lawmakers and members of the legislature.

Thousands of people are expected to participate in this election by mail — an option available to all voters for any reason since 2020.

But the mail voting process can be confusing and has been made even more so by legal challenges, disinformation undermining public faith in elections, and efforts by many Republican lawmakers to prohibit its use.

That's why Spotlight PA has compiled this guide to everything you need to know about requesting, filling out, and returning your mail ballot.

THE CONTEXT: As Spotlight PA has previously reported, many legislative Republicans, including gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, want to eliminate no-excuse mail voting.

But that hasn't stopped at least four of them from casting their ballot that way in recent elections, USA Today's Pennsylvania network (paywall) reports. The group includes state Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland), who appears to have voted by mail in every primary and general election since 2020.

State officials have stressed that voting by mail is legal and available to all this November. 

But issues remain from the 2020 election, including the so-called curing of ballots, which allows county officials to inform voters when there's a problem like a missing signature. A state appellate judge ruled Thursday that the practice should be allowed, but the lawsuit led by the Republican National Committee is expected to be appealed to the state Supreme Court, the Inquirer (paywall) reports. 


“If it’s big enough we should all just storm the buildings … Seriously … I was talking to my Dad about how easy that would be with enough people.”

—A message from Charles Bradford Smith of Shippensburg to Marshall Neefe of Newville; both were sentenced on Jan. 6-related charges this week
Read our complete coverage, plus key dates, campaign finance data, sample ballots & more at our Election Center 2022 website.

Spotlight on the Issues: Where Mastriano and Shapiro stand on...

»  Crime & Justice
»  LGTBQ Rights

More issue analyses will be published in the coming weeks.

A complete listing of Spotlight PA voter guides:  

»  Everything you need to know about mail ballots
»  Your complete guide to the candidates for governor
»  How to vet the candidates on your midterm ballot
»  No constitutional amendments on the ballot, but big ones loom
»  How to serve as a poll worker on Nov. 8
»  These Pa. voters haven't missed a Nov. election for 50+ years
»  How Spotlight PA will cover Pennsylvania's 2022 election

En Español:

»  Su guía completa de los candidatos a gobernador

Support Spotlight PA's vital election coverage by making a gift now.
» CAP-STAR: Oz gains GOP favorability, Shapiro maintains lead: F&M poll
» WJET/WFXP: Tom Ridge endorses Oz in Pa.'s U.S. Senate race
» INQUIRER: 2 ways Fetterman answered attacks over crime (paywall)
» PENNLIVE: Rebbie Mastriano 'forceful figure in husband's campaign'
» TRIBLIVE: Westmoreland GOP commissioners remove drop box
Montgomery County's Gwynedd Preserve, as seen by @noraodendahlSend us your photos, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
PUBLIC HEARING: The first of two public hearings in the impeachment probe of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner took place on Thursday and included testimony from the mothers of homicide victims who said they were frustrated with how the police and Krasner's office handled their cases, City & State reports. Outside, a circus gathered in protest of the GOP-led impeachment effort.
VOTER TRENDS: The Inquirer (paywall) looked at decades' worth of Pennsylvania voter registration data and found "accelerating long-term political shifts." For example: Republicans are eating away at the Democratic Party's overall registration edge with gains in smaller counties, but Democrats continue to draw voters in the biggest counties and among the youngest members of the electorate.

NEW SENTENCE: Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Michael "Ozzie" Myers was sent back to federal prison this week to serve 30 months behind bars for his role in a ballot box stuffing scheme. WHYY reports Myers pleaded guilty to the charges in June, roughly four decades after he was convicted in the FBI's Abscam sting, which ended his four-year career representing a Philadelphia congressional district.

CLIMATE IMPACT: Pennsylvania has warmed by 1.8 degrees in the past century and its rainfall has increased by 10%. With the trend expected to worsen, York Daily Record (paywall) examined the impacts on one vineyard — winemaking being especially susceptible to the effects of climate change — where temperature swings are bursting grapes and heavy rains are flooding everything.

HOME BUYS: Nonprofits seeking to preserve affordable housing in the Pittsburgh region are looking to buy and preserve cheaper rental options as a way to counter market forces, PublicSource reports. But they're often competing with real estate developers and landlords less interested in keeping prices low. Now, as rent controls sunset, some of the nonprofits worry they're outgunned and losing ground

RADIO TIMES: After 35 years, WHYY'S Marty Moss-Coane is signing off and will do her final "Radio Times" interview on Nov. 18, the station reports. But fear not: a new weekly show with Moss-Coane is in the works.

RIP: The rapper Coolio, best known for his song "Gangsta’s Paradise," has died at 59. He was born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in Monessen, Pennsylvania.

BONE APPETIT: These are just some really cute, funny pictures of dogs at the Humane Society of Lebanon County scarfing down burgers.

STRAIGHT MAN: Fresh off of Better Call Saul (watch it!), Bob Odenkirk is starring in a new show set at a struggling Pennsylvania college.

NEW RECORD: Congratulations are in order to the Harrisburg-based Ollie's, which set a new world record for the largest bobblehead

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: Machinery

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Bruce B., Irene R., Susan N.-Z., Michelle T., Don H., Barbara F., Elaine C., Marty M., Deb N., Steve D., James S., Daniel M., Becky C., Antoinette F., Kim C., James B., Kimberly D., Dianne K., Bill S., George S., Stanley J., Susan D., Nancy S., and Joel S.
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