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Pa. election 2024: A guide to vetting primary legislative candidates

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds power to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania. Sign up for our free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — This year, all Pennsylvania House representatives and half of state senators will be on the ballot.

 


Democracy Works: Democracy is the sum of us

Heather McGhee made her career in pushing for economic policy changes at the think tank Demos. But she couldn’t help but feel that something was missing from her work. So she embarked on a cross-country road trip to understand what’s at the heart of what ails America’s economy and our democracy. The result is her book “The Sum of Us,” which she joins us to talk about in this episode

 


Elections 101: How Pa. secures mail ballots, prevents fraud, and more

Elections 101 from Spotlight PA protects you against election misinformation and empowers you to make informed decisions. This story is made possible through a collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting.

You may be one of the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who plan to vote by mail during the 2024 election. Or maybe it’s an option you’ve considered but haven’t pursued because you distrust the process or have concerns about fraud.

 


Voting rights groups appeal ruling that directs Pa. to reject undated mail ballots

This article is made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting. Sign up for Votebeat’s free newsletters here.

After a court defeat, Pennsylvania voting rights organizations are trying to convince a larger group of federal appellate judges that the state shouldn’t be allowed to reject mail ballots that lack a proper date on their return envelopes.

 


Why independents can’t vote in the 2024 Pa. primary, and the slow-moving push to change that

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds power to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania. Sign up for our free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — Millions of voters are expected to cast ballots during Pennsylvania’s April 23 primary, choosing candidates to represent the Democratic and Republican parties in November.

 


Pa.’s top election official answers your questions about misinformation, voting machines, and more

Ahead of the April 23 primary, Pennsylvania’s top election official answered your questions about misinformation, voting machine security, and more.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt joined Spotlight PA’s Kate Huangpu and Votebeat’s Carter Walker in March for a live event about building trust in elections. If you missed it, you can watch the conversation here.

 


Redesigned mail-in, absentee ballot materials in Pa. arriving in voters’ mailboxes soon

Mail-in and absentee voters will soon get a chance to see the new designs for ballot materials, if they haven’t arrived already.

With the colorful envelopes and highlighted sections, the layout is intended to help voters correctly fill out the return envelope and remember to put the ballot in the secrecy sleeve.

 


INTERACTIVE: See which Pa. attorney general candidate is right for you

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds power to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania. Sign up for our free newsletters.

Pennsylvania’s April 23 primary election is fast approaching, and Democrats and Republicans will soon have to decide which attorney general candidate they want to send to the general election.

 


Pa. election 2024: Everything you need to know about requesting, filling out, and returning your mail ballot

HARRISBURG — On April 23, Democrats and Republicans in Pennsylvania will vote for their parties’ candidates for president, U.S. House and Senate, state row offices (attorney general, auditor general, and treasurer), and the legislature.

 


Pa. election 2024: A complete guide to who is on the primary ballot, when to vote, how to vote, where to vote, casting mail ballots & more

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds the power to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania. Sign up for our free newsletters.

 


Elections 101: What to know about poll watchers, and what they can and can’t do in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG — As the 2024 election heats up, voters in Pennsylvania may hear candidates talk about poll watchers. Appointed by candidates or political parties, poll watchers are permitted to observe polling place setup, the voting process, and the counting of ballots.

 


‘Dark money’ groups would be forced to disclose how they spend on Pa.’s elections under advancing bill

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds power to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania. Sign up for our free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House is advancing modest campaign finance reforms during an election year that will likely see a torrent of hard-to-trace political spending flood the state.

 


Recount petitions could impede Pa.’s efforts to certify 2024 election by new federal deadline

This article is made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting. Sign up for Votebeat’s free newsletters here.

After the 2022 elections, a flurry of precinct-level recount petitions prevented Pennsylvania from certifying its election results until Dec. 22 — weeks later than usual.

 


Casey, McCormick to appear alone on Senate ballots in Pennsylvania after courts boot off challengers

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Republican David McCormick will be the only eligible names on ballots for the office in Pennsylvania’s April primary after a ruling Friday by the state’s highest court.

 


Pennsylvania treasurer candidates spar over unclaimed property issue

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds power to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania. Sign up for our free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — An obscure policy issue is getting new attention in this year’s race for Pennsylvania treasurer as Democratic state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro of Erie seeks to draw a contrast with Republican incumbent Stacy Garrity.

 


Philadelphia voting commission shakeup creates bad optics during big election year

This article is made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting. Sign up for Votebeat’s free newsletters here.

A power shift and restructuring within the Philadelphia Board of City Commissioners is causing strife among its three elected members, which observers warn could create the appearance of dysfunction in the office as it enters a high-pressure year overseeing the city’s elections.

 


Trump dominates in GOP primaries across the country

Sixteen states and one territory are making their presidential preferences known on this biggest voting day of the primaries. Here’s what we’re following:

 


Ballot order is critical for candidates. In Pa., it’s determined by luck.

This article is made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting. Sign up for Votebeat’s free newsletters here.

As Sajda Blackwell approached the front of the room, she did a little dance of excitement — a shimmy as she pumped both fists in the air.

 


Pennsylvania sets up election security task force ahead of 2024 presidential contest

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies, civil defense officials and election administrators have begun meeting in Pennsylvania to coordinate how they will identify and fight election threats with the presidential contest just eight months away in the battleground state, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration said Thursday.

 


Pa. election 2024: The state House races to watch as Democrats try to keep the majority

HARRISBURG — When voters go to the polls this November, control of the Pennsylvania House could rest on the outcome of a single race.

Currently, Democrats control the 203-member chamber by two votes, with one safely Republican seat vacant. All state representatives must run for reelection every two years.

 


Elections 101: Everything you need to know about Pennsylvania’s voting machines, how the state keeps them safe, and more

This series from Spotlight PA protects you against election misinformation and empowers you to make informed decisions. This story is made possible through a collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting.

During what is likely to be another contentious presidential election in Pennsylvania, you may hear contradictory, confusing, or downright false claims about voting machines.

 


A deficit of experienced voting officials could mean trouble for Pa.’s 2024 election

As the presidential election approaches, Pennsylvania is facing a deficit of experienced election directors, increasing the risk of errors that could cause difficulties for voters, disenfranchise their votes, and ignite disputes over results.

 


US appeals court to decide if Pennsylvania mail-in ballots with wrong date still count

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal appeals court must decide if Pennsylvania voters need to put accurate handwritten dates on the outside envelopes of their mail-in ballots for the votes to count, a dispute with implications for this year’s presidential contest.

 


Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary election will feature contests for attorney general and Congress

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary election may lack drama in the high-stakes races for president and U.S. Senate, but the field for lower-ballot contests are filling up for the state’s attorney general’s office and a handful of its 17 seats in the U.S. House.

 


Voters explain what issues matter to them at the Great American Outdoor Show

Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the National Rifle Association’s Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg this week, according to event organizers.

 


Democracy Works: A different kind of political divide

As a Democracy Works listener, you probably follow politics pretty closely. And many of the people in your life probably do, too. But what about everyone else? People who casually keep up with political news or maybe tune iit out entirely.

 


Democrat Dan McCaffery wins open seat on Pennsylvania Supreme Court

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democrat Dan McCaffery won an open seat on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court in Tuesday’s general election, preserving a strong Democratic majority on a panel that has produced several critical election-related rulings in the presidential battleground state.

The seven-member bench, which will be made up five Democrats and two Republicans, is also at the center of cases on guns and abortion rights — which had a prominent role in the campaign.

 


Democrat Timika Lane wins court seat, as Pennsylvania Democrats sweep 4 statewide judicial races

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democrat Timika Lane won a seat on a statewide appellate court in Pennsylvania, giving Democrats a sweep of four statewide judicial races in Tuesday’s election, including an open seat on the state’s highest court.

Vote-counting continued into Wednesday and put Lane, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge, over the top in her race for a seat on the state Superior Court.

 


Pa. Commonwealth Court election results: Democrat Matt Wolf beats Republican Megan Martin

HARRISBURG — Democrat Matt Wolf, a Philadelphia municipal judge, will fill an open seat on Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court.

The Associated Press called the race at 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Unofficial results show Wolf with 53% of the vote and Republican Megan Martin, a former legislative official, with 47%.

 


Election results out in county commissioner, school board and other races across central PA

These are unofficial election results.

Centre County

In the race for Centre County Commissioner, Democrats Mark Higgins and Amber Concepcion and Republican Steve Dershem have been reelected.

There were a few competitive Centre County row offices. Democratic incumbent Jason Moser has been reelected as Controller. Democrat Colleen Kennedy holds on to her Treasurer position. And in a very close Recorder of Deeds race, Republican incumbent Joseph Davidson currently holds a 127 vote lead over Robert Zeigler.

For the State College Area School District Board of Directors, all five Democratic “Slate for State” candidates have been elected by numbers about double their Republican competitors’. Amy Bader and Gretchen Brandt will return to the board, along with newcomers Anne Demo, Dan Kolbe and Aaron Miller.

 


Pa. election 2023: New interactive tool illustrates why judges matter and how they shape policy in our state

HARRISBURG — Elections for seats on Pennsylvania’s highest courts tend to lack the urgency of other races, as those courts seem to operate far from our everyday lives, especially when compared to the work of local and state officials.

But judges in these positions hold an immense amount of power, and make decisions that profoundly impact some of the most pressing and hot-button issues of our time, including abortion, civil liberties, education, voting and elections, and the environment.

That’s why Spotlight PA is launching a new voter tool ahead of this November’s judicial contests to illustrate how the courts in recent years have affected the policies you care about most.

 


Pa. election 2023: Everything you need to know about requesting, filling out, and returning your mail ballot

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s 2023 election will give voters the chance to pick a new slate of judges across several statewide courts.

On Nov. 7, voters will elect a new state Supreme Court justice, as well as new judges to sit on Commonwealth and Superior Courts. They will also decide whether two appellate judges on Superior Court should get another term.

Across the state, some residents will also vote in municipal races for offices like mayor and school board, and answer ballot questions.

 


Pa. election 2023: A complete guide to who is on the ballot, when to vote, how to vote, where to vote, casting mail ballots & more

HARRISBURG — On Nov. 7, Pennsylvanians will cast their vote for a new state Supreme Court justice, as well as for new judges to sit on Commonwealth and Superior Courts. Voters will also decide whether two appellate judges on Superior Court should get another term.

Across the state, depending on where you live, there might also be municipal races on the ballot, for offices like mayor and school board, along with ballot questions.

To help you prepare for Election Day 2023 in Pennsylvania, we’ve answered some of your most frequently asked questions below…

 


Pa. election 2023: What to know about the judicial retention questions on the November ballot

HARRISBURG — Near the bottom of this year’s general election ballot, Pennsylvania voters will be asked simple questions with long-term consequences.

Depending on where they live, voters will decide whether at least two state judges should “be retained for an additional term” of 10 years.

All state judges — from those who preside over municipal courts to the justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court — initially run in partisan races. Once elected, the judges on Pennsylvania’s powerful appellate and Common Pleas courts serve 10-year terms — often holding their seats for decades with little notice.

 


One man’s spending is dominating Pa. judicial races. Who is he, and why is this election important?

HARRISBURG — A political group almost entirely funded by Pennsylvania’s richest resident has contributed one out of every three dollars raised this year by candidates running in critical statewide judicial races.

The group, Commonwealth Leaders Fund, has spent over $2.7 million, the vast majority to support just one candidate: Montgomery County judge Carolyn Carluccio, a Republican running for a seat on the state Supreme Court.

The position comes with great power. In recent years, the high court threw out the state’s congressional map for being overtly partisan, allowed a lawsuit challenging the state’s education funding system to go to trial, and upheld the state’s mail voting law.

 


Pa. Supreme Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more

At a quick glance: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is made up of 7 justices. Currently, there are 4 Democrats and 2 Republicans that serve on the court. There is 1 vacancy before voters in the November 2023 election. To qualify for a seat on the court, candidates must have state residency for at least one year and reside in the commonwealth throughout the duration of their term. They must be at least 21 years of age, but not older than 75. They also have to be a member of the Bar of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and licensed to practice law in the state.

 


Pa. Superior Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more

At a quick glance: Superior Court is made up of 15 judges. Currently, there are 7 Democrats and 7 Republicans that serve on the court. There are 2 vacancies before voters in the November 2023 election. To qualify for a seat on the court, candidates must have state residency for at least one year and reside in the commonwealth throughout the duration of their term. They must be at least 21 years of age, but not older than 75. They also have to be a member of the Bar of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and licensed to practice law in the state.

 


Pa. Commonwealth Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more

At a quick glance: Commonwealth Court is made up of 9 judges. Currently, there are 3 Democrats and 5 Republicans that serve on the court. There is 1 vacancy before voters in the November 2023 election. To qualify for a seat on the court, candidates must have state residency for at least one year and reside in the commonwealth throughout the duration of their term. They must be at least 21 years of age, but not older than 75. They also have to be a member of the Bar of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and licensed to practice law in the state.

 


Expanded voter ID is back on the table in Pennsylvania

This article is made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania lawmakers are once again considering expanding the state’s voter ID requirements, this time as part of a larger proposal to change the date of the 2024 presidential primary.

The Democratic-controlled state House is expected to consider a Republican-authored amendment this week that would require voters to show proof of identification every time they cast a ballot in person. Currently, state law requires voters to show proof of identification the first time they vote at a polling place.

 


Democracy Works: Understanding union voters

In the heyday of American labor, the influence of local unions extended far beyond the workplace. Unions were embedded in tight-knit communities, touching nearly every aspect of the lives of members—mostly men—and their families and neighbors. They conveyed fundamental worldviews, making blue-collar unionists into loyal Democrats who saw the party as on the side of the working man.

Today, unions play a much less significant role in American life. In industrial and formerly industrial Rust Belt towns, Republican-leaning groups and outlooks have burgeoned among the kinds of voters who once would have been part of union communities. This episode explores why that’s happened and whether new unions coming online at places like Starbucks may change the picture moving forward.

 


Pennsylvania’s 2024 presidential primary date unlikely to change due to legislative impasse

This article is made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

The effort to move Pennsylvania’s 2024 presidential primary date appears to be dead due to a legislative impasse, leaving the commonwealth as the only state with an April 23 election that conflicts with Passover.

In separate statements Thursday, state Senate leadership said the matter was “closed” and state House leadership called it “unresolvable.”

 


Automatic voter registration in Pa. draws GOP lawsuit threats, but little action

This article is made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

Republicans at the state and national level are still crying foul over Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s announcement last month that the state had adopted automatic voter registration at motor vehicle offices.

Conservatives are questioning not only the security and motives of the program, but also Shapiro’s authority to unilaterally make such a change without the legislature.

 


An earlier Presidential primary could be coming to Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s 2024 presidential primary is scheduled to take place April 23, but state Rep. Scott Conklin, who is majority chairman of the State Government Committee, said the committee is looking to move that earlier in the month.

Conklin said the committee will likely discuss the various dates being proposed on Oct. 3, with a goal of moving the legislation out of committee quickly. A bill from the House would change the primary to April 2. Another bill from the state Senate would move the presidential primary to the third Tuesday in March. But that, Conklin said, would push the date when candidates begin collecting petitions to get on the ballot to the day after Christmas.

 


Judge tells Pa. county to accept in-person votes from residents whose flawed mail ballots were rejected

This article is made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaboration with Votebeat, a nonpartisan news organization covering local election administration and voting. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

A judge has told Delaware County to count ballots cast in person by voters whose mail ballots were rejected during the primary, a ruling the county, even though it lost the case, says it welcomes.

Following the May 16 primary, Delaware County’s Board of Elections decided not to accept provisional ballots cast in person by voters who had already been told their mail ballots were rejected due to technical defects. That means that these voters were twice rejected, after trying to remedy their mail ballot mistake by voting provisionally at their nearby polling places, and ultimately were disenfranchised.

 


Five former Pa. governors want to allow independents to vote in partisan primaries

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s five most recent former governors have collectively announced their support for open primaries, adding new fuel to a long-smoldering debate over whether the commonwealth should allow unaffiliated voters to help choose partisan candidates.

In a letter published Monday, Govs. Tom Corbett, Ed Rendell, Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker, and Tom Wolf wrote that they, “pledged to govern on behalf of all Pennsylvanians,” and argued that primary elections are now decided by fewer, more extreme voters. The letter goes on to assert that opening primaries would help tamp down extremism and polarization.

 


Democrats retain narrow control of Pennsylvania House after special election

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democrats will retain their one-vote majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives after voters in Pittsburgh on Tuesday elected former congressional aide Lindsay Powell.

Powell’s victory gives Democrats a 102-101 majority in the House. Republicans have a 28-22 majority in the Senate, creating a divided Legislature that has kept Democrats from passing priorities such as broadened protections for LGBTQ+ people and gun control measures and Republicans from wins on issues including school vouchers.

 


Pa.’s Election Code is badly outdated. That could have serious consequences in 2024

HARRISBURG — On a rainy June Thursday, Pennsylvania lawmakers gathered in Harrisburg as the governor signed off on a complete revamp of the law that regulates elections.

One new rule the legislature had landed on: the need to have lanterns, or a proper substitute, in polling places.

The year was 1937, when electric lights were only in roughly two of every three American homes, and power was just starting to make its way to rural Pennsylvania.

Today, that rule is still on the books.

 


Pa. election 2023: A complete guide to the candidates for Commonwealth and Superior Courts

On Nov. 7, Pennsylvanians will select a new judge for Commonwealth Court and two for Superior Court — and all of these new judges will immediately wield the power to referee legal disputes over state law and decide major criminal cases.

 


Pa. election 2023: A complete guide to the candidates for state Supreme Court

During Pennsylvania’s general election on Nov. 7, voters will select the newest state Supreme Court justice.

The winner of the election — Democrat Daniel McCaffery or Republican Carolyn Carluccio — will have considerable power over the interpretation of laws in the commonwealth, and will help determine the balance of the court in coming years.

 


Democracy Works: ‘Democracy 2024’ on the debate stage

The Democracy Works team (Michael Berkman, Chris Beem, Candis Watts Smith and Jenna Spinelle) are back from summer break and diving into the 2024 election season, Donald Trump’s indictments, the spread of election deniers and more.

This episode also explores significance of “Democracy 2024” as the backdrop for the first Republican presidential debate on August 23.