October 1, 2021
House GOP moves to enshrine voting changes in Constitution

The drive by lawmakers to circumvent a governor’s veto in order to change voting procedures gained momentum this week when the House State Government Committee passed a proposal (HB1596) to enshrine voter ID, mail ballot signature verification, and an elected Secretary of State in the state Constitution, among other changes to election and voting procedures. Top election officials are elected in 35 states, but the risk of partisan politics influencing election administration has only grown in recent years; making the PA Secretary of State an elected position would only exacerbate this risk. As a constitutional amendment, the legislation would have to pass before the end of the 2021-22 session and again in 2022-23 before heading to the voters as a ballot question.
Election “audit”: Round and round they go

Several Republican elected officials in Pennsylvania have questions about the state Senate’s “forensic investigation” of the 2020 presidential election. State Treasurer Stacy Garrity questioned why the Senate must invade the privacy of nine million PA voters by requiring the state to hand over their drivers license numbers to an outside vendor. And Al Schmidt, Philadelphia’s Republican City Commissioner went further, condemning the entire enterprise’s “deranged logic” in an Inquirer op-ed: “This has become perfectly circular — they spread lies about Pennsylvania’s 2020 election to justify an election ‘investigation’ and simultaneously claim an ‘investigation’ is justified because voters believe their lies.” 
  • Too many voters believe those lies: As of two months ago, 66% of Republicans nationwide polled by Yahoo News/You Gov believed that President Biden won the election fraudulently.
An election is coming up this November, too (Nov. 2)

Local and judicial offices (including races for one seat apiece on the PA Supreme and Superior Courts and two on Commonwealth Court) are on ballots across Pennsylvania, with polls opening on November 2. See Seventy’s Voter Guide for an overview of offices and ballot questions in southeast Pennsylvania.
Caught our eye
City Hall Roll Call is a summary of City Council’s weekly Stated Meeting by Lauren Vidas, an election lawyer and government relations specialist. Good government requires transparency, which is why C70 proudly sponsors this important work! 
On our radar
Two ways to count prisoners: WHYY reports that most of PA's 37,000 state-prison inmates will be counted where they last lived for state-legislative redistricting purposes but this may not be the case for congressional redistricting led by the General Assembly.
A Delco Dem listens to Republicans: The Inquirer profiles Deb Ciamacca, a former State House candidate who might run again as she seeks out voters who aren’t likely to vote for her.
Should we stop electing judges? Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts executive director Deborah Gross and Broad + Liberty founder Albert Eisenberg argue the pros and cons in an Inquirer op-ed.
Amendment-snafu fix: Two bills that would tighten procedures around the process of getting Constitutional-amendment proposals to voters passed the state Senate this week with bipartisan support.
Ranked-choice voting for Philly: As Council member Derek Green asks for a hearing on using RCV for city elections (which would require changing state law), the Philadelphia Citizen explores how it could positively affect 2023 mayoral and council races.
Register to vote at tax time? The IRS can facilitate it as easily as state DMVs can, and perhaps more easily, tax-law experts Jeremy Bearer-Friend and Vanessa Williamson assert in a New York Times op-ed.
Events
Seventy's 117th Anniversary Event: Principles, Parties & Where We Go From Here
October 7 at 6 pm

With important elections on the horizon for bellwether Pennsylvania, two American powerhouses come together to discuss the realignment of the electorate, the current state of American politics and the political parties, and how these forces could play out. Joining us will be Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster, a commentator and bestselling author, and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the majority whip and the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Michael Smerconish, the host of programs on CNN and Sirius XM Radio, will moderate the conversation. Contact Lauren Cristella at lcristella@seventy.org to learn about sponsorship and ticket opportunities.
Beitler Distinguished Lecture: Conspiracy Theory and Political Culture, Past and Present
Tues., Oct. 19, 5:30 pm
Online

Join Adrienne LaFrance, executive editor of The Atlantic, and Atlantic contributor James McAuley, the author of The House of Fragile Things, a history of Dreyfus-era France, for a conversation around the long history of conspiracy theory and its role in political culture, then and now. The discussion will be moderated by Sophia Rosenfeld, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Presenting the event is the Penn’s Lorraine Beitler Distinguished Lecture Series. RSVP.
Get Involved
City Council Redistricting Workshops

Virtual, small-group workshops are being offered through October 4 that aim to provide useful background on the Council redistricting process, insights on the impact of the 2020 Census, and how individuals and organizations can get involved. These sessions are a great opportunity to quickly get up to speed on the issue. The updated schedule is here: seventy.org/drawphilly
PA High School Voter Education Challenge
Now through Oct. 18

The PA Departments of State and Education launched its fifth annual Governor’s Civic Engagement Award (GCEA) Program to promote student-led voter registration efforts on Tuesday, Sept. 28, National Voter Registration Day. “The GCEA program is a creative way to encourage civic education and engagement among Pennsylvania’s high-school students and cultivate the lifelong habit of voting," said Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid. Registration deadline for the Nov. 2 election is Monday, Oct. 18. Learn more.
Sign the Citizens’ Pledge to Fight Big Money in Elections

American Promise members in PA are launching a bipartisan campaign to make us the 23rd state to call for a constitutional amendment to stop big-money corruption. It would “reaffirm the power of citizens through their government to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections.” Learn more and sign the pledge.
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!