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Voting machine malfunction reports coming to Pa.

Plus, a town wants answers about a drilling mishap.

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Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

Monday, August 21, 2023
Election reports, municipal hires, lingering questions, explosion leads, agonizing wait, use of force, and the delayed return of sweater weather.

Pennsylvania’s Department of State will soon require counties to publicly report voting machine malfunctions under a legal settlement between the state and a coalition of election security groups.

The tracking will begin in time for this November’s municipal election, but counties are still awaiting details. Experts say the reports could be the first of their kind and create a unique opportunity to improve efficiency while combating misinformation that has become routine in recent cycles.

Read Spotlight PA's full report with VoteBeat: Pa. will track voting machine malfunctions under new legal settlement.

THE CONTEXT: The settlement caps a lawsuit that was filed by election security groups after a few counties adopted new voting machines the plaintiffs called flawed in the areas of ballot security and disability access.

From Spotlight PA and Votebeat:

“Along with having the state direct counties to report malfunctions, the settlement agreement requires the department to give the public better opportunities to witness its voting equipment examination process and requires that the three counties using the voting machine, called the ExpressVote XL, upgrade to its latest software.

Along with the National Election Defense Coalition, the groups involved in the suit against the Department of State include the Pennsylvania-based Citizens for Better Elections, the election equality nonprofit Free Speech for People, and a cohort of several Pennsylvania voters.”


“So many told me, ‘Mister, I was bawling my eyes out — I didn’t even know them, and I’m so proud.’ It’s very emotional for people.”

Mister Mann Frisby’s reaction to the outpouring of support for his nonprofit honoring college-bound Black men in Philadelphia
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
» Crisis pregnancy centers are in trouble in Pa., via The New Republic.
» Rep. Mercuri's website scrubs anti-abortion stance, via PoliticsPA
» Why Pennsylvania's judicial elections matter, via Capital-Star
» Pa. legislators look to move 2024 primary to April 2, via WESA
» Rep. Ecker wants to regulate child social media influencers, via NCPA.
Ron's Antique Radio Museum, which is located off Lincoln Highway in Manns Choice, via PA Poster @lora_exploresSend us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
Old signs and gas pumps on a rural roadside.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania. MUNICIPAL MANAGERS: Three Pennsylvania bills aim to change who can be hired to be a municipal manager and improve local government services, Spotlight PA reports. State Rep. Bob Freeman (D., Northampton), a sponsor of one of the bills, said his change would allow a range of professional groups, including firms, to be hired as managers in towns and cities where only individuals could do the job before.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.‘FRAC-OUT’: More than a year after residents of New Freeport in Greene County discovered a drilling fluid leak or frac-out caused by natural gas activity near an abandoned well, they still do not have answers on whether it is safe for them to drink their water again, NBC News reports. Residents continue to rely on bottled water.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
BLAST PROBE: It’s unlikely that the house explosion that killed six in Allegheny County last week was caused by natural gas seeping from an abandoned mine in the area, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection officials say. The AP reports the state’s inspectors examined the coal seam in the area and found no shafts or bore holes near the house that exploded. The investigation continues.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.WAITING GAME: After moving to Pennsylvania from Missouri earlier this year and correcting her nursing license to reflect a change to her maiden name, Amy Milson is still waiting for her updated credentials. Milson told The Morning Call (paywall) that the wait has cost her up to $15,600 in income. Milson isn’t alone in experiencing such a delay, and a state law that could help has yet to be put into action.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.BODY CAM: Two use-of-force experts have dissected footage of a fatal Ligonier Valley police shooting involving a man with a machete. TribLIVE reports one of the experts said the police could have done more to deescalate the situation. Another said the police could have called the man — 59-year-old Robbie Saunders — out to the yard instead of climbing up the stairs, boxing the front officer in at the landing.
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COURSE CLASHES: Carlisle Area School Board voted 7-0 in support of a pilot of the Character Strong program at Wilson Middle School, the Sentinel (paywall) reports. The empathy-focused program prompted a West Shore School District lawsuit over unspecified religious freedom claims. 

EXTRA MILES: Three children in West York have to walk an extra two miles to school each way even though three-quarters of their home lies in a closer district. PennLive (paywall) reports that's because the owner of the family's rental home pays taxes to the city of York, not West York borough.

OVERSEAS DIG: IUP students and staff are investigating a World War II bomber crash site in Germany for an archaeology project, TribLIVE reports. The goal is to account for a trio of missing American personnel.

ROAD HONOR: A portion of Pennsylvania Route 255 will be named The Dr. Betty Hayes Memorial Highway in honor of Hayes who led a coal mining strike against inhumane conditions in 1945 in Force, Elk County.

WARM AUTUMN: Sweater weather will have to wait a little longer as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects a warm fall with above-average temperatures into November, ABC27 reports.
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.

Friday's answer: Debonair

Congrats to our weekly winner: Christopher H.

Congrats to our daily winners: John E., Jon W., Ted W., Don H., Bruce B. Judith D., Kim C., Stacy S., Kimberly D., Doug W., Dennis M., James and Anne B., Susan N.-Z., Richard B., Tom M., Dan A., Wendy A., and Elaine C. 
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