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December 9, 2022

Make mail-in voting bipartisan again

In PA’s gubernatorial election, Republican Doug Mastriano had a good Election Day, winning some 60,000 more votes cast on Nov. 8 at polling places than Democrat Josh Shapiro. The problem for Mastriano, though, was that Shapiro cruised through Nov. 8, garnering more than 800,000 of the 1.2 million mail-in ballots cast, and he cruised to a 790,000-vote victory. Mastriano had promised to scuttle PA’s 2019 expansion of mail-in voting had he won because of unfounded concerns about voter fraud. But that won’t happen now, and after a disappointing election season, the GOP might be changing its tune. As PA National Committee person Andy Reilly told Politico: “When one party votes for 30 days and one party votes for one, you’re definitely going to lose.”

Seventy says: With new legislative sessions starting around the country next year, there’s an opportunity to reset the debate on election reform, C70 CEO Al Schmidt writes in “For leaders and elected officials of both major parties to embrace voting by mail will give us our best chance yet to improve our election laws in ways that maintain voter access while preserving election integrity. Partisans should have every interest in doing this. But it’d also be good for voters, not to mention our democracy.”

“Independent State Legislators” theory: A bullet dodged?

U.S. Supreme Court justices didn’t seem to find consensus during Wednesday’s oral arguments in a North Carolina redistricting case in which the lawyer for the plaintiffs—the state’s Legislature—asked the justices to apply a literal reading of the Constitution’s “independent legislature” clause that could bar state courts from reviewing election-related laws a legislature might pass. The justices may not rule until June, but observers expect that whatever emerges is still likely to leave many election-law checks and balances in place.

And as a practical matter: A literal interpretation of the theory could also split local and state races from federal ones, with separate rules for each. And that “invites both chaos and paralysis into the system in a way that election administration becomes unworkable to have different rules for different candidates in the conduct of that election on the same ballot,” C70 CEO Al Schmidt said at a webinar hosted by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

Caught Our Eye

Every Voice, Every Vote: Fifty-two news outlets, community groups and faith-based institutions will share $1.5 million in grants from the Lenfest Institute, the William Penn Foundation and the Knight Foundation to expand news coverage and build community interest in the issues facing the city as Philadelphians elect a new mayor and City Council next year. Read more.

Get the inside scoop on Philly politics by subscribing to City Hall Roll Call. Written by @BroadAndMarket and supported by C70, this weekly newsletter offers a recap of every City Council Stated Meeting delivered straight to your inbox.

On Our Radar

Fair Districts: Writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pitt law professor Mark Nordenberg, who chaired the PA Legislative Reapportionment Commission, outlines the “changing circumstances and timeless values” that shaped this cycle’s General Assembly maps.

See you in court: The dispute over which party controls the PA House and gets to call the special elections to fill the three open seats will probably be resolved in court. And The Inquirer expects “a bigger showdown” Jan. 3, when the new session begins with 100 Republicans and 99 Democrats in the House. 

The elections not stolen: A court-ordered recount of four Westmoreland County precincts revealed a three-vote change from the original tally of some 4,200 ballots. Petitioners had complained of fraud and misconduct, but submitted no evidence to back it up. And a Berks County judge rejected claims that voting machines changed votes.

Been there, done that: Former mayor Michael Nutter and onetime Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed are kicking off How to Really Run a City, their new Philadelphia Citizen podcast, by interviewing current Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf. Listen.

Can’t recall: In a PA Capital-Star commentary, Duquesne University law professor Bruce Ledewitz argues that the PA House effort to remove Philly DA Larry Krasner is a recall masquerading as an impeachment—and PA doesn’t have a provision for that.

Back-room democracy: Allegheny County Democratic Committee leaders will use ranked-choice voting to select their candidate to fill the seat of the late Rep. Tony DeLuca.

On Our Radar

Ideas We Should Steal Festival

Wed., Dec. 14, 6-8 pm

Quorum at University City Science Center, 3675 Market St.

Thurs., Dec. 15, 9:30 am-4 pm

Comcast Technology Center’s Ralph J. Roberts Forum, 18th and Arch St.

Join the Philadelphia Citizen for Wednesday's reception and special event, Truth and the Media, Post-Midterms with New York Times Magazine writer Emily Bazelon, former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, The 19th’s Errin Haines and Spotlight PA’s Chris Baxter, in conversation with MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi. This event is free and open to the public. Then on Thursday, the main event will feature all-day panels and featured speakers. Lunch, snacks, coffee, and beverages will be served. Register.

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