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July 29, 2022
Coming to a newspaper near you: ads for 6 (!) constitutional amendments

Public notices for six proposed amendments to the PA Constitution will be in newspapers around the state next week. These proposals won’t be on the ballot in November, but running the advertisements several times before voters weigh in is required by law. The PA Department of State’s failure to post such ads last year for a proposal to open a two-year window for victims of clergy child-sex abuse to file lawsuits knocked it off the ballot. But the Legislature again approved this amendment, along with a controversial and far-reaching package of others that were pushed through mostly along party lines. Other amendments would preclude a constitutional right to abortion, enable the Legislature to block executive-branch regulations, require government-issued voter ID, authorize regular state audits of election results, and allow gubernatorial nominees to choose their running mates.
Political tool?

PoliticsPA interviewed legislators about what it calls the GOP majority’s “new-found toy” — veto-proof constitutional amendments, 38 of which were introduced in this session (three by Democrats). Spotlight PA is tracking them.
Abortion-amendment lawsuit:

Gov. Wolf announced Thursday that he’s suing the General Assembly in the PA Supreme Court, charging that the proposed amendment violates the PA Constitution’s right to privacy and that it should have been considered by legislators by itself, not as part of a package of unrelated amendments.
PA Independents: Profiling the disenfranchised

Writing in Real Clear Pennsylvania, Ballot PA chair David Thornburgh looks at the political leanings of PA’s million-plus independent voters and finds that they’re more moderate than registered partisans, though they lean slightly right. Independents are also more likely to be men, veterans and immigrants, and they skew younger. Though they vote at only two-thirds of the rate of major party voters, Thornburgh says it was their votes that swung Pennsylvania to Donald Trump in 2016 and to Joe Biden four years later. Why don’t independents vote as often as Republicans and Democrats? One possible reason is that PA is one of only nine states that won’t allow them to vote in taxpayer-funded primaries. Ballot PA is working to change that. Sign our petition.
Some good news:

The bipartisan measure to allow independent voters to cast ballots in either the R or D primary will receive a hearing on Aug. 16 (10:30 am) at the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts at Villanova University, 800 East Lancaster Ave.
Caught Our Eye
Fired up: BillyPenn charts the progress of the open wards in Philly Democratic politics, where elected committee people would have a say in candidate endorsements and other important ward business. Learn more at Open Wards Philly.
On Our Radar
Debate around voter ID: In another Inquirer op-ed, Kyle Sammin of Broad + Liberty acknowledges that the 2020 presidential results in PA were accurate but notes that “election integrity has become tinged with partisanship and tribalism.” Sammin thinks voter ID would “help restore some trust in the process.” Studies say otherwise.

Electoral officials press their case: Votebeat follows the lobbying and testimony by state and local election officials for more funding and sensible election laws in D.C. and statehouses around the country.

Immigrant electoral power? Axios reports that naturalized citizens have the potential to become an election-deciding voting bloc — especially in swing states that could determine which party controls Congress.

Youth electoral power? A Tufts University study finds that Pennsylvanians under 30 are registering to vote at a higher rate (69%) than the national average, suggesting that they’re poised to increase their political clout. Read about student activism at Carnegie Mellon University in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Court date for undated ballots: Lawyers for the PA Department of State and the three counties that have refused to count some 800 undated mail-in ballots cast in the May primary squared off Thursday in Commonwealth Court.

Special delivery: The U.S. Postal Service is ramping up efforts to deliver mail-in ballots in a timely manner in advance of the November midterms by creating a specific election division. The Postal Service also says it delivered 99.89% of the ballots it received in the 2020 election within seven days and 97.9% within three days.

RCV for NV? Nevadans will vote on a November ballot measure to approve both nonpartisan top-five primaries and ranked-choice voting for their elections. Nevada is currently one of the nine states (PA among them) that currently holds completely closed primaries.
Get Involved

Apply for a Buchholz Fellowship

After a successful launch in 2017, our fifth cohort of Buchholz Fellows are concluding their year as “junior members” of C70’s Board of Directors. Now we’re seeking our sixth cohort. Buchholz Fellows are emerging young leaders (recommended age is 25-35ish) working in the private or nonprofit sector who embody the qualities that longtime Seventy stalwart Carl Buchholz exhibited in his life and work: personal and professional integrity, a strong work ethic, collaborative spirit, a superior intellect and a passion for improving his community. Applications will be open until Friday, Aug. 26. Apply.

Voter Registration and Poll Worker Recruitment

The Philadelphia NAACP is partnering with Black Voters Matter and Millennials in Action to hosting register voters and recruit poll workers at events now through September:

July 30, 12-2:30pm: Fred's Water Ice (6560 N Lambert St)
Aug 13, 1-4pm: 52nd Street Station (52nd & Market St)
Aug 20, 12-3pm: Philadelphia Branch NAACP (4458-B Germantown Ave)
Aug 6, 1-4pm: Jacobs Northwest (7165 Germantown Ave)
Aug 27, 1-4pm: Broad & Olney Transportation Center
Sept 26, 1-4pm: Germantown & Chelten

Fix Harrisburg Lunch Updates
Thurs., Aug. 4, 12 noon | Zoom

Join #FixHarrisburg for biweekly updates on the campaign to build pressure against legislative dysfunction and for bipartisan solutions. Current legislative rules give a few partisan gatekeepers the power to decide which bills get a vote in a 253-member Legislature. With their first vote on the first day of session in January, newly-elected legislators will determine whether and how these rules will change. Register.

Algorithms & Anachronisms: How New Tech & Old Politics Are Holding Us Back
Wed., Aug. 10, 3 pm | Zoom

In a devastating critique of America’s social-media practices in The Atlantic, NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt warned that “If we do not make major changes soon, then our institutions, our political system, and our society may collapse.” Haidt will expand on that chilling prediction in an Open Primaries virtual discussion led by former Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and Open Primaries CEO John Opdyke. Register.

Securing Your Vote: Business Briefing on PA Election Operations with Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman
Wed., Sept. 7, 10 am | Zoom

Seventy joins Business for America to present a briefing by Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman on the Department of State’s efforts to prepare for the November General Election and how we can maximize the engagement of employees, customers, and community members for it. The Pennsylvania business community plays an essential role by ensuring that accurate election information is distributed to its stakeholders so we all can have confidence that our elections are secure, accessible and efficient. Register.