January 26, 2021
Election-law debate off to a rocky start

Few disagree that more reforms are necessary after Act 77 of 2019 dramatically transformed our elections by allowing any Pennsylvanian to vote by mail, but to date the real issues remain overshadowed by partisan sparring. This largely continued in last week’s House State Government Committee hearing, the first of 14 tentatively scheduled by Committee Chair Seth Grove (R-York) to “help clarify and streamline the election process.” Still, there’s some hope that a new Election Law Advisory Board composed of 23 public officeholders and private citizens (including C70 policy director Pat Christmas) may prove to be a better space for productive discussion to elevate the most urgently-needed changes. Both the House committee and advisory board have meetings this Thursday.
  • What election directors want: The officials who actually run elections in the 67 counties want more time to deal with mail-in ballots. In a preliminary report, the County Commissioners Association of PA calls for an earlier application deadline and the ability to process them before Election Day.
Trust in Fourth Estate tanks

“Media trust hits new low,” Axios reported this week. The factoid prompting this alarming headline was a PR firm’s annual “Trust Barometer” finding that for the first time since it began checking in 2000, a majority of Americans believe that the mainstream media is untrustworthy (56% or 58%, depending on question wording). Meanwhile, only 27% trust social media. More depressing is that media mistrust isn’t confined to the U.S., nor is it likely to abate here in the wake of President Trump’s departure from Washington. A “silver lining,” such as it is, is a research firm’s finding that election misinformation dropped by 73% on social media in the days immediately following Trump’s suspension. But this and other ad hoc measures by the tech titans have reinforced suspicion of their industry from across the political spectrum.
Caught our eye
“We Did That,” by Letisha Golafaie and Symone Salib, recognizes advocates at the forefront of Philadelphia election history. (Photo: Kyle Everett /KYW)
On our radar
New roadmap to political reform in Philly: In a Philadelphia Citizen op-ed, former city housing director John Kromer lays out three suggestions to increase civic engagement.
Women in state politics: The PA Capital-Start charts the progress women have made in obtaining elected office in Pennsylvania.
Primer on PA redistricting: Spotlight PA lays out the procedures for redrawing the lines for Congressional and General Assembly districts, as well as the stakes involved.
NO to judicial districts: A vast set of organizations, including Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, urge the General Assembly to back off on a proposed state Constitutional amendment to scrap statewide elections of appellate-court judges and elect them from districts drawn by legislators.
Corporate conscience on donations: A number of major corporations have stopped donating to legislators who questioned the 2020 General Election results, but Inquirer business columnist Joseph DiStefano wonders how long that will last.
“What kind of message is that?” Republicans air their views of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in The New York Times’ podcast The Daily.
Get involved
Campaign Finance Training Series
Philadelphia Board of Ethics
February - March

The Philadelphia Board of Ethics is hosting a series of trainings on local campaign finance law and compliance through March. See this overview of the rules and bring your questions. The online sessions will take place on Jan. 27, Feb. 10 and 24, and March 9 and 24. (Ward committees: the March 24 session is specially for you!) Register.

Stitching our Futures Series
Mural Arts Philadelphia
February - March

Stitching our Futures is a participatory quilting project that educates Philadelphians on the city's budget and imagines the possibilities of re-allocating resources to fund equitable change. Artists Jesse Krimes and Phoebe Bachman will host a series of teach-ins focused on the current budget and visionary changes to it. These conversations will lead to creating collaborative community quilts that illustrate the areas Philadelphia residents most want funded. Register.
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