Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State Senate Passes Bills Banning Ballot Drop Boxes, Zuckerbucks

Natalia Mittelstadt
April 14, 2022

The Pennsylvania state Senate on Wednesday passed two election integrity bills banning ballot drop boxes and private funds to administer elections.

The legislative chamber passed Senate Bill 1200 along party lines, which requires absentee ballots to be returned either by mail or delivered to the county board of elections office.

Republicans who oppose drop boxes said that they were not expressly authorized by a 2019 law expanding mail-in voting. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled they were legal.

GOP state Sen. Cris Dush, who wrote the bill, said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its bounds.

“We’ve got a problem with a lack of confidence on the part of the people got a problem with something that can definitely be utilized to do ballot stuffing. This is a legitimate issue,” he said, according to WHTM, a local ABC affiliate.

Senate Bill 982 was also passed on Wednesday, with eight Democrats joining Republicans to ban so-called “Zuckerbucks,” or private money to fund elections.

“Senate Bill 982 simply states what all of us understood to be fact – government should pay for elections. Voters, taxpayers and citizens alike deserve the most fair and equitable election system. It should be uniform from one county to the next regardless of size, demographics, or wealth,” Republican state Sen. Lisa Baker said, reported PoliticsPA.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Center for Tech and Civic Life gave nearly $350 million in grants to municipalities for running the 2020 election.

CTCL has claimed its 2020 election grants were to be used to make voting safer amid the pandemic, without any political preference. However, a House Republican investigation found that less than 1% of the funds were spent on personal protective equipment. Most of the funds were focused on get-out-the-vote efforts and registrations.

While CTCL claims that more grants were awarded to counties won by former President Donald Trump than President Joe Biden, the nonprofit gave larger grants and more money per capita to Democratic counties than to Republican ones. Trump won more than five times as many counties as Biden in 2020.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) opposes both Senate bills, but his office did not indicate whether he would veto them, according to Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station. He previously vetoed a bill that allowed only the secretary of the commonwealth to receive the funds and distribute them equally across counties.

Wolf tweeted on Thursday, “Election enhancements Pennsylvanians need:

“Allow counties to process ballots sooner

“Increase poll worker pay

“Upgrade to secure electronic poll books

“Help fill poll worker vacancies

“What Republicans are taking action on:

“Eliminate secure drop boxes”

BREAKING: Court Rules Pennsylvania Senate’s Investigation of the 2020 Election Results in the State Will Move Forward

Joe Hoft
January 12th, 2022 

A Pennsylvania Court has ruled in the case regarding the state Senate’s investigation into the 2020 Election results in Pennsylvania.  The investigation will move forward despite RINOs, Democrats, and Dominion Voting machines protesting the effort. 

Per a local far-left publication – Pittsburgh’s Action News 4:

A Pennsylvania court declined Monday to block an entire subpoena to state election officials in what Republican state lawmakers call a “forensic investigation” of 2020’s presidential election, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s … claims that Democrats stole the election.

But the statewide Commonwealth Court that issued the seven-page order also did not immediately greenlight the release of some information that Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro challenged as being protected by privacy laws.

In the unsigned order, the court said state officials did not persuade it that the subpoena issued in September by a Republican-controlled Senate committee had no legitimate legislative purpose.The state, led by its corrupt AG and SoS, are trying to stop this effort from moving forward.  They attempted to ask what was the purpose of the investigation, but it is really none of their business because the Senate felt compelled to have the audit performed and have no legal obligation [that we know of] to provide the rationale for the investigation to the state’s corrupt executive groups.

The subpoena had requested a 17 categories of records, much of it public, but also information that the state attorney general’s office said is protected by privacy laws, namely the partial Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers of roughly 9 million registered voters and details about election systems that is barred from public disclosure by federal law.

The court also declined to debate whether the subpoena was issued appropriately under internal Senate rules, saying it would leave that matter to the Senate.

It did not issue a hearing schedule or instructions on how it will handle the release of information potentially protected by privacy laws, including the partial Social Security and driver’s license numbers of roughly 9 million registered voters.

Both sides declared victory.

The Senate’s highest-ranking member, President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a gubernatorial candidate trying to establish his pro-Trump credentials, said in a statement that the ruling “upholds the General Assembly’s clear legal and constitutional authority to provide oversight of our election system.”

Shapiro, who is also running for governor this year, said in a statement that the court recognized there are serious questions about the vendor hired by the Senate Republicans “to safeguard the private personal information of nine million Pennsylvania voters.”

After attempting to sidetrack the effort in Pennsylvania, the opponents of the investigation began attacking the investigators.  This is their next tactic.

The subpoena in Pennsylvania stopped short of requesting ballots and voting machines, as was done in Arizona, until Dush wrote last month to request the digital data from the election computers and hardware used in the 2020 election by Fulton County, a sparsely populated and heavily Republican county.

On Monday, Dominion Voting Systems lost a bid in court to restrict any inspection of its voting machines to a laboratory that has specific credentials, which Envoy Sage does not have.

Dominion Voting Machines also is attempting to insert itself into the court challenges.

As of now, the investigation in PA will move forward on Friday.

Judge Halts Trump Campaign’s Mail-In Voting Lawsuit Against Pennsylvania

ISABEL VAN BRUGEN 
August 24, 2020

A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Aug. 23 ordered a stay on a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, the national Republican Party, and four Pennsylvania Republican members of Congress against the state’s decision to expand mail-in voting ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

The federal lawsuit (pdf) filed June 29 in Pittsburgh sues Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and 67 county election boards. It claims that as voters jumped to make use of the greatly broadened eligibility for mail-in ballots during the June 2 primary, practices and procedures by elections officials ran afoul of state law and the state and federal constitutions.

U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan halted the case until Oct. 5, telling Trump’s campaign that its claims must wait, at least until October, for state courts in the presidential battleground to clear up crucial fights, including over collecting and counting mail-in ballots. Ranjan was appointed by Trump in July 2019.

“To be free and fair, elections must be transparent and verifiable,” the lawsuit reads. “Yet, Defendants have inexplicably chosen a path that jeopardizes election security and will lead—and has already led—to the disenfranchisement of voters, questions about the accuracy of election results, and ultimately chaos heading into the upcoming Nov. 3, 2020 General Election.”

“Free and fair elections are essential to the right of Americans to choose through their vote whom they elect to represent them. Upending our entire election process and undermining ballot security through unmonitored by-mail voting is the single greatest threat to free and fair elections.”

The issues are a “direct result” of the state’s “hazardous hurried, and illegal implementation of unmonitored mail-in voting,” the federal lawsuit claims.

A law was passed in the state last year to expand mail-in ballot options to anyone who wanted to vote by mail, even if they did not have a valid reason that would prevent them from voting in person.

The lawsuit claims the new system gives “fraudsters an easy opportunity to engage in ballot harvesting, manipulate or destroy ballots, manufacture duplicitous votes, and sow chaos.”

It seeks to outlaw drop boxes or other collection sites that some counties used in the June 2 primary to help gather a record-smashing number of mail-in ballots. Trump’s campaign also wants to stop counties from counting ballots that lack secrecy envelopes, and it also wants to throw out a state law that restricts poll watchers to county residents.

Ranjan ruled Sunday that the case must be halted until October to see whether state courts decide, or at least narrow, the issues raised by Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee (RNC) and four Pennsylvania Republican Congress members Glenn Thompson, Mike Kelly, John Joyce, and Guy Reschenthaler.

“After carefully considering the arguments raised by the parties, the Court finds that the appropriate course is abstention, at least for the time being. In other words, the Court will apply the brakes to this lawsuit, and allow the Pennsylvania state courts to weigh in and interpret the state statutes that undergird Plaintiffs’ federal- constitutional claims,” Ranjan wrote, CNN reported.

After Oct. 5, parties can ask Ranjan to resume claims in the case.

“The President’s fight against the problems of Pennsylvania’s radical new vote-by-mail system has been running on parallel tracks in state and federal court for some time,” Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager said in a statement in response to Ranjan’s ruling.

“The judge’s stay today is simply a recognition that the multitude of issues surrounding Pennsylvania’s dangerous voting system—including ballot harvesting and double voting—touch both federal and state constitutional issues,” he continued.

“The federal court is simply going to reserve its judgment on this in the hopes that the state court will resolve these serious issues and guarantee that every Pennsylvanian has their vote counted—once.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

When Hunger Intensifies in Pennsylvania, the Soup Brigade Mobilizes

GOOD NEWS NETWORK
August 7th, 2020

When New Yorker Julie Snarski first moved to the picturesque community on the Delaware River, she felt like she had wandered onto a television set. From Yardley’s charming downtown, with buildings dating back to the 18th century, to St. Andrew’s Parish, the beautiful Episcopal church next to a tree-lined pond and historic graveyard, it’s easy to see why Snarski had trouble believing the town near Trenton, New Jersey was real.

Not only is Yardley, Pennsylvania real—it’s really kind, too, and its been named one of America’s 50 Nicest Places by Reader’s Digest.

For nearly four decades, on the third Sunday of every month, St. Andrew’s parishioners have been meeting in the church parish house and assembling meals for elderly and shut-in residents of the five-county Philadelphia area.

The coronavirus ended their proud 37-year streak. But church members figured out a way to continue their essential service, just as the need skyrocketed.

Caring for Friends, the organization that distributes the meals, came up with the idea for the parishioners to make meals in their homes. They enlisted neighbors to help, and pretty soon the volunteers were cranking out 1,000 meals and 400 containers of soup each week—almost ten times more food than before.

“I’ve been impressed how this seed of an idea has taken root,” says Snarski, who nominated Yardley as the Nicest Place in America.

“There was all of this passion and energy around feeding people and food justice, so we thought, What else could we do?,” says the Reverend Hilary Greer. “We got inspired after learning that 40 percent of America’s produce in World War II came from victory gardens in backyards and at churches. I thought, What if we did that here?”

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They couldn’t come together to plant a community garden in one place, so they created a community garden throughout the community. Anybody who wanted to join in came to
St. Andrew’s to pick up seedlings to plant at home. As the tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and basil came in, the home gardeners brought the bounty to the church to be distributed to area food banks including the Bucks County Housing Group and the Interfaith Food Alliance, also located in Bucks County.

St. Andrew’s is also educating its largely White parish and community about racism, with training and discussion sessions every Sunday after church via Zoom. (The training and discussion sessions will occur every Sunday via Zoom in July.)

“We’re a White, wealthy suburb,” Rev. Greer says. “We need to learn all of the ways that racial injustice fuels criminal injustice, and injustice in the educational system. Until people get how all this is interconnected, they’re never going to understand why all of this is happening.

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“We’re going to have conversations that go places that are uncomfortable, it’s how we grow. We will show up to listen, and bring our whole selves to the conversation. We will be in it for the long haul,” says Rev. Greer, “not just while the protests are happening.”

Need more positive stories and updates coming out of the COVID-19 challenge? For more uplifting coverage, click here.