August 20, 2021
Argall-Steet bill: A bipartisan approach to election reform

An election bill being drafted by PA Senate State Government Committee chair Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill) and Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), the committee’s Democratic chair, sidesteps some contention by not including more controversial issues (eg, voter ID and signature matching) that have soured the election reform debate. What the proposed Argall-Street measure does address is based on recommendations from the Senate’s Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform that include pre-canvassing, ballot tracking and requirements for poll worker training---all legitimate issues raised by election officials and nonpartisan advocates. The devil will be in the details, but for now Senators Argall and Street deserve plaudits for attempting to work across the aisle.
  • It’s official: Mail-in ballots are popular and secure. The federal government’s Election Assistance Commission reports that while mail-in voting soared to record levels in 2020, the rate of rejection of mail-in ballots wasn’t significantly higher than in the past.
Redistricting: A Rubik’s Cube

Now that the politicians who’ll redraw Pennsylvania’s Congressional districts, and the politicians (plus one non-politician) who’ll do the same for the General Assembly have Census figures in hand, we have a pretty good idea of what they’ll be able to do: C70 executive director David Thornburgh likens the challenge to a “Rubik’s cube problem” in a useful Spotlight PA guide titled Four Takeaways from the PA Census Data and what it means for redistricting. How they’ll do it is another matter. We’ll be watching, and so can you. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which handles the state legislative districts, will hold a public session on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at 10:30 a.m. in Harrisburg. See the livestream.
  • People want reform: This month’s Franklin & Marshall College poll finds that 63% of registered PA voters want redistricting reform and that 65% want an independent commission to redraw the General Assembly districts, including 58% of Republicans, 69% of independents and 76% of Democrats.
  • Latino representation: Highlighting the Census data, Ceiba’s Will Gonzalez makes the case for equitable representation of Latino communities across Pennsylvania, including the growing and diverse El Barrio in North Philly.
Caught our ear
WHYY’s Radio Times explores the stakes as Pennsylvania redraws its Congressional and state legislative districts. Guests include Fair Districts PA chair Carol Kuniholm, and State Reps. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) and Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia), who sits on the PA Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Listen.
On our radar
Voting-rights bill introduced: A proposed update of the 1965 Voting Rights Act named in honor of the late Rep. John Lewis was introduced in the U.S. House Tuesday. The Hill reports that it’s expected to pass next week. Its prospects in the Senate appear better than those of the more sweeping H.R. 1 For the People Act.
A new third way: The Inquirer interviews Ethan Demme, a former Lancaster County GOP official who’s spearheading the PA launch of the Save America Movement (SAM), a new third party focused on government and political reform.
Magic seats: The Inquirer’s Clout column details how politically-connected Philadelphians can become city judges without the bother and expense of running in a primary.
Get Involved
Become a Buchholz Fellow

Are you passionate about Philadelphia? Do you want to know more about how to positively affect change in our city? Are you a young professional interested in serving on a respected nonprofit board? As a nonpartisan civic leadership organization that’s existed for 117 years, the Committee of Seventy knows how critical it is that we develop and connect the next generation of community leaders. That is why we launched the Buchholz Fellowship, in honor of board member and civic leader Carl Buchholz. Apply today!
Draw the Lines Awards Ceremony
Tues., Aug. 24, 4:30- 5:30 pm

The 2020-21 Draw the Lines mapping competiton winners will be recognized during a virtual award ceremony. During the hourlong event Draw the Lines PA, an initiative of the Committee of Seventy, will salute its regional and state honorees in the youth, higher-education and adult divisions in the congressional, state Senate and state House categories. For their remarkable work, they'll win prizes ranging form $100 to $2000. Register.
Toast to Tenacity: Vision 2020’s Annual Celebration of Women’s Equality Day
Tues., Aug. 26, 12 noon - 1pm
300 S. Broad St., Philadelphia (outdoors)

Celebrate women’s diversity, raise a toast to the suffragists and get pumped up to keep up the fight for a future of gender equality at a mid-day outdoor event at the Kimmel Center. It’s both the grand finale of Women 100 and the kickoff of a four-day City of Sisterly Love celebration. Learn more.
PA Appellate Courts Candidate Forum
Mon., Sept. 20, 7 pm

Candidates for open seats on PA’s Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth Courts appear in a virtual forum moderated by Maureen M. McBride, co-chair of the appellate division at Lamb McErlane PC. The event is sponsored by Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the League of Women Voters of PA, the PA Bar Association, the Philadelphia Bar Association and the Allegheny County Bar Association. Register.
For the first time in our 117-year history, Seventy has created a membership program to broaden, diversify and expand our community of local democracy-builders. Your membership also provides unique opportunities to meet civic leaders and policy experts, gain inside knowledge of the reform process, and connect with people who are passionate about our city and commonwealth.
Become a member today!