September 10, 2021
Gone fishin': Misguided election investigation begins

President Pro Tem Jake Corman announced today Republicans’ intention to issue subpoenas related to the investigation begun yesterday by the Intergovernmental Operations Committee. As the Inquirer noted, the substantive purpose of the inquiry remains unclear, especially after a combined 14 public hearings were already held this year in both chambers that included testimony from dozens of local and state election officials. Ultimately, this investigation appears primed not only to waste time and taxpayer dollars, but to exacerbate distrust of Pennsylvania election officials and distract from the legitimate issues in election law and policy that should be addressed.
“De facto disenfranchisement” in PA prisons

Thousands of Pennsylvanians are currently in prison but eligible to vote because they are only awaiting trial or have been convicted of misdemeanor (and not a felony). But, with no statewide policy or resources for voting access in county jails (not to mention the pervasive myth that anyone who has ever been behind bars cannot vote), eligible voters in these facilities rarely cast ballots. So nearly all counties have work to do in formulating policies that allow and encourage voting and, just as important, implementing those policies with fidelity, according to a report out this week from the voting-rights group All Voting Is Local, Common Cause PA and Seventy. Philadelphia and the surrounding suburban counties scored well in some areas and not so well in others, but the report found that every county—and the state as a whole—have significant room for improvement.
Caught our eye
PA Citizens’ Congressional Map

Draw the Lines PA, a project of the Committee of Seventy, released this week the Pennsylvania Citizens' Map, a composite 17-district congressional map that attempts to embody the work of some 7,200 Pennsylvanians who participated in five Draw the Lines competitions in 2018. This is the first such map created with such a wide range of input, and we think it should be the starting point for the General Assembly's work this fall. Most important: the Legislature should similarly produce a preliminary map and a narrative, and publish it for public feedback before voting on a final plan that must then be approved by Gov. Wolf. Drawing districts fairly makes compromise a must (C70 CEO David Thornburgh likens it to “a Rubik’s Cube problem” in an interview with the PA Capital-Star: “You change one thing, you have to change something else”). So what do you like about our map? What would you change? Let us know!
  • The mapper’s perspective: Mapper Lauren Ban, a University of Pittsburgh law student, and DTL managing director Justin Villere describe the process and the results in interviews with CBS Pittsburgh.
On our radar
Redistricting hearings delayed: The House State Government Committee announced that redistricting hearings planned for later this month in Kingston, Spinnerstown and Northeast Philly will now take place in October. The reason: the early return of the PA House so GOP legislators can challenge Gov. Wolf’s mask mandate.
More Zoom for Council: Citing the delta variant, Philadelphia’s City Council announced that it will continue to meet virtually when it reconvenes next week.
Labor peace (so far): The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and District Council 33, the union representing blue-collar city employees, have agreed to contracts. Police and firefighters' contracts are still pending.
Fake news wins by a mile (six, actually): Researchers at NYU and a French University found that publishers “known for putting out misinformation” garnered six times as many interactions on Facebook as did trustworthy sources during the runup to 2020 election.
A bipartisan plea: Election officials need our help against repressive laws and personal threats, Obama administration White House counsel Bob Bauer and veteran Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg write in a Washington Post op-ed. Bauer and Ginsberg are co-chairs of the newly formed Election Official Legal Defense Network.
More parties, less partisanship? Lee Drutman, the author of “Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America” and a co-founder of Fix Our House, a new campaign for proportional representation, thinks one way to end the incessant R vs. D head-butting would be to increase the number of political parties to six. Take this New York Times quiz to which you might align with.
Join our Team
Apply to be C70's President & CEO

The Committee of Seventy is currently searching for its next President and CEO to lead its ongoing mission for better government and politics in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. Read the full job description on LinkedIn. Nominations, inquiries, and expressions of interest (cover letter, resume, and three references) should be directed electronically to: [email protected].

Expressions of interest will be received through September 17, 2021.
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!