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|In this Election Day edition: voter guides, political observations, fracking foes, and a 'secret' casino lab. Thanks for checking in. Go vote!|
It's Election Day, and voters statewide are set to decide key judicial contests, including for an opening on Pennsylvania's highest court, that could help shape laws on abortion, the environment, voting, and more.The court contests:
There are also closely watched local races for district attorney, Philly's 100th mayor, and Allegheny County's first new executive in 12 years.
Whether you're voting in person or with a mail ballot (or if you have a mail ballot but no longer want to use it), read Spotlight PA's full guide on how to vote, where to vote, and everything else you need to know.
Quick voter checks:
One contest being looked to as a potential 2024 barometer is the record-breaking race for an open seat on Pennsylvania's Supreme Court between Democrat Daniel McCaffery and Republican Carolyn Carluccio.
Voters statewide will also cast ballots for two other appellate court contests — positions with tremendous sway and staying power. Once elected, judges often remain in these roles for decades — interpreting state laws, striking them down completely, and determining guilt and punishments.
On the subject of tenure, voters in this election are additionally tasked with deciding whether to retain a pair of existing Superior Court judges.
Here's what (and who) you need to know: The issues:
The person who wins the open seat on Commonwealth Court could help shape Pennsylvania’s laws on everything from elections to firearms, while the two candidates who win seats on Superior Court could decide the outcomes of high-profile criminal cases and set legal precedents.
Their rulings can be appealed to the state Supreme Court, Pennsylvania’s court of last resort. Here are guides and tools to help you better understand the role of the courts and the wide-reaching impacts of this election.Keep scrolling for more election coverage below.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
“The joke is on you. I had a stroke. I can’t fully understand what you are saying.”
—U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) responding to a critic of his pro-Israel stance at a weekend event; Fetterman's unflinching support for Israel has made him a focus of ceasefire pleas as the issue divides his party
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» RESULTS REVIEW: Join us, the New Pennsylvania Project, and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 6-7 p.m. for a Q&A on the election results. Register for the event here and submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|SCHOOL WARS: School board races are on the ballot nationwide today, but Politico reports few are more "vicious, sophisticated, expensive" and infused with hot-button politics than those in Pennsylvania, one of the biggest strongholds for the conservative Moms for Liberty group. In a shift, school boards have become the premier contests for some voters, testing a new kind of “upballot” momentum.|
SWING COUNTY: The suburbs remain pivotal, with today's commissioners race in Bucks County potentially offering clues as to what's motivating the voting bloc that proved so influential in 2020. In Bucks, Democrats won rare control in 2019 and Republicans are now looking to take it back amid shifts in voter registration. Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro will stump for his party's candidates there today.
- RELATED: A school board race in the Lehigh Valley is heating up, with books and gender policies on the ballot, via WVIA/NPR.
AT-LARGE SEATS: Progressive policies are on the ballot from Allegheny County to Philadelphia, where Billy Penn reports contests for city council seats could bring "historic change to the legislative body." Republicans and third-party progressives are facing off for two at-large council seats all but reserved for non-Democrats. The Democratic response to those bids has been messy and conflict-riven.
2024 VISION: Attention will quickly focus on next year's election after today's, and new polling by the New York Times and Siena College has Donald Trump leading Joe Biden in the presidential contest in Pennsylvania and four other critical states. It's early and there are X-factors to consider, including a possible Trump conviction and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s independent run for the Oval Office.
FRACK EFFECTS: A Grist piece titled "Pennsylvania’s fracking boom is hurting its oldest residents" includes the story of 80-year-old Mary Ellen McConnell, who bought a home in Bedford County just to see it overrun by fracking decades later. Now, she says her water is full of arsenic and her health is failing. “Up until 10 years ago, I was a pretty healthy bitch,” McConnell added. “And, unfortunately, I’m dying.”
GOOD NEWS: Gary Guadagno searched high and low for his late parents' wedding rings before selling their Reading home. He figured his mother, who'd had Alzheimer’s disease, had thrown them out, WaPo (paywall) reports. Twelve years later, the home's buyers found them in a light fixture.
OPEN HISTORY: Veterans Day is this week and economist Chris Briem shared a chart showing how few living World War II veterans are left in Pittsburgh: "If you know any ... take the time to talk to them about their experience."
'SECRET CASINO': PennLive (paywall) goes inside the Harrisburg lab that tests Pennsylvania casino games to ensure fair play. The gaming control board employees doing the testing aren't allowed in real-world casinos.
REESE'S REPORT: Just a reminder/warning that Pennsylvania-made Reese's Peanut Butter Cups continue to offer a half-pound option. On a related note: Have I been pronouncing Reese's wrong this whole time?
MAP IT OUT: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) was challenged to blindly name all 67 Pennsylvania counties on a map, so he did.
Unscramble and send your answer to email@example.com. 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
L Y L T R U A I P
Yesterday's answer: Wheelhouse
Congrats to our daily winners: Eddy Z., Lynne E., Stacy S., Beth H., Daniel M., Jane R., Barbara F., Marty M., Bob C., Theresa T., Richard A., Don H., Jon W., Jody A., Susan N.-Z., Vicki U., Susan R., Elaine C., Dan A., Sherri A., Ronnee G., Jim W., Alan B., Stanley J., Tish M., Karyl S., Kimberly D., Becca S., Jack G., William Z., Marie B., Karen W., Ted W., Jeff F., Craig E., Nancy S., Tom M., Kim C., Mike B., Joel S., Art Z., Steve D., Sharon B., Beth T., and Leann T.