February 12, 2021
No rest for weary election officials: Primary season begins next week

Republican and Democratic candidates can begin circulating their nomination petitions for the May 18 primary on Tuesday, Feb. 16. This is person-to-person politics and it hasn’t been altered in the face of COVID, so it’ll be interesting to see if candidates will have more problems than usual collecting enough valid signatures. For most judicial seats statewide and all Philadelphia citywide offices it’s 1000 signatures; countywide candidates in the suburbs will need 250. Philly voters will choose their DA and Controller, and there’s an array of county and municipal offices up for grabs in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. You’ll soon be able to build your own ballot on C70’s ballot tool, and complete information on all the offices and ballot questions will be posted on our 2021 Election Guide.
Election issues take a rest in Harrisburg (but not in Trenton)

There wasn’t any news out of Harrisburg on election-related issues this week, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did predict that PA election laws are “likely to change, but not in a big way” in a useful summary of the state of the debate between the Rs and Ds. Meanwhile, New Jersey will roll back much of its COVID-related expansion of mail-in voting. Republican legislators in Trenton opposed most of last year’s changes, but according to The Fulcrum, mail-in voting might have helped Garden State GOP candidates more than it did Democrats.
  • Keep (real) reform on the front burner: An Inquirer editorial urges Harrisburg to allow precanvasing and increase financial and logistical support for beleaguered county election officials. It also praises the Wolf administration for its proposal to upgrade the state’s creaky Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE) system.
Too many arms; too few doses. And no plan for when supplies ramp up

While Philadelphia is hardly the only place in the world that has bungled its vaccine roll out, the Philly Fighting COVID fiasco certainly didn’t get us off to a fast start, and now local politicians are arguing over whether to use Lincoln Financial Field as a mass-vaccination site as concerns grow about the inequitable distribution of doses we do have
  • Time to get your act together: With the feds promising that supplies will soon increase, the city will need to demonstrate that it can manage the surplus better than it has dealt with the current shortage. Getting the vaccine and getting folks vaccinated are two different things. We strongly encourage city council members and the Kenney administration to work together to get this done.
Caught our eye
Vote by mail data from Pew Poll
On our radar
Open up primaries: One reason we endorse open primaries is because it dilutes the power of party bases and decreases polarization. Recently both the Michael Smerconish blog and New York Times op-ed columnist Timothy Egan agreed with us for just that reason.
Money talks (or not): A Caucus review of campaign spending by PA General Assembly candidates of both parties found that $80 million in expenditures had little if any effect on the results.
New voting-machine standards: The federal Election Assistance Commission updated the benchmarks most states use to approve voting equipment for the first time in 15 years. The guidelines cover such areas as security, privacy, paper-ballot use and election audits. But critics say they could introduce new cybersecurity threats.
Mum’s the word: The Inquirer reports that the Wolf administration won’t release details on the error that has so far derailed the clergy sex-abuse referendum.
Oversight board begins to take shape: Council member Curtis Jones introduced enabling legislation for the independent police oversight commission. According to WHYY, the commission will have power to investigate misconduct. It is expected to be up and running by summer.
They’re in the money: Amid pandemic-related suffering around the state, the PA General Assembly saw its own reserves grow by $27.8 million to $200 million this year, PennLive reports.
FixUs: More than 50 former elected officials reflect on “why governing is no longer good politics” and offer their thoughts on how to fix it.
Get involved
Draw the Lines 2021 Competition
Deadline: June 1

This spring is the final Draw the Lines competition using old data and software before the process starts for real using data from the 2020 Census. The deadline for maps to the competition: Tues, June 1st. While we wait for that data, you can still win thousands of dollars by drawing a demonstration map, either congressional, state senate, or state house. Visit our Draw a Map page to get started. Once you've done the preparation steps, complete the embedded form and you'll then see a link to the mapping platform designed specifically for Draw the Lines. Questions? Let us know!
Redistricting State Legislative Boundaries: Drawing the Lines for the Next Decade
Wed., Feb. 17, 4-5:30 pm

The redistricting process will take place this year despite Census Bureau delays. Join Draw the Lines and Fair Districts PA for a virtual town hall on the obscure five-person group called the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, responsible for drawing PA House and Senate districts. Sign up.
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!