Pennsylvania Bill Would Clarify That Courts Can’t Redraw Electoral Maps, as State Supreme Court Did in 2018

Legislation currently in the works in the Pennsylvania General Assembly would spell out two rules for redistricting in the Keystone State: Elections cannot legally take place in outdated districts and courts can’t create new districts themselves.

In Feb. 2018, the Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court not only struck down Pennsylvania’s congressional maps as unconstitutionally gerrymandered, it reimposed new maps created with no input from the legislature, something state law does not grant the court the right to do. The new maps strongly favored the Democrats’ electoral prospects.

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Pennsylvania State Senators Legislating to Prevent Privatizing Election Administration

Kristin Phillips-Hill

Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to introduce a measure banning private organizations from funding election administration in the Keystone State.

The bill’s sponsors, state Sens. Lisa Baker (R-Dallas) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-Jacobus) have cited the role that the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) played in election operations in Philadelphia and other Democratic-leaning counties in 2020. CTCL has been funded significantly by Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

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Pennsylvania Court Allows Lawsuit Against Use of Electronic Voting Machines to Proceed

A Pennsylvania court this week issued an opinion allowing litigation attempting to block the use of electronic voting devices in Philadelphia, Northampton and Cumberland counties to proceed. 

Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin P. Brobson (R), currently a candidate for Pennsylvania Supreme Court, ruled that two advocacy groups and several state residents have standing to challenge the use of ExpressVote XL systems.

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New Book Tells How Trump’s Pennsylvania Election Lawsuit Lost Key Focus on Equal Protection and Unraveled

A new book by The Federalist editor and Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway details how 2020 Pennsylvania-election litigation by former President Donald Trump lost its focus on equal protection and got dismissed.

In Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections, Hemingway credits Philadelphia attorney Linda Kerns with attempting to keep Trump’s lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s election results focused on Fourteenth-Amendment concerns. The author significantly blames Rudy Giuliani for causing the case to unravel by making superfluous arguments.

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Pennsylvania County Commissioners’ Group Opposes Live-Streaming of Mail-In Vote Counting

Bipartisan enthusiasm for election-reform legislation appeared solid at a Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee hearing on Thursday, save for one part: video live-streaming of mail-in-ballot counting.

Elements of the bill, sponsored by Sen. David Argall (R-PA-Pottsville) and Sen. Sharif Street (D-PA-Philadelphia), have arisen largely from recommendations in a June 2021 report by the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform. Argall and Street’s proposal excludes some of the ad hoc panel’s more contentious ideas, particularly enhanced voter-identification rules, which Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York) is spearheading in separate legislation. (While Gov. Tom Wolf [D] vetoed Grove’s bill in June, the representative has reintroduced it in light of the governor’s subsequent remarks in favor of a strengthened voter-ID requirement.)

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At Pennsylvania Senate Meeting on Elections, Subpoenas Issued, Dem Calls GOPers McCarthyites, Another Has Remarks Curtailed for Breaking Senate Rules

At Wednesday’s meeting concerning the Pennsylvania’s Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee’s election investigation, which saw Republicans winning a vote to subpoena voter records, Democrats fumed.

One angrily compared GOP colleagues to Joe McCarthy, the notoriously zealous anti-communist U.S. senator from Wisconsin who served from 1947 to 1957.

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Lawmaker Gears Up to Grill Pennsylvania Department of State on Voter-Registry Errors Uncovered by Democrat Auditor General

As Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Majority Chair Cris Dush (R-Wellsboro) investigates recent elections, Democratic lawmakers against tightening election security must contend with a withering 2019 audit of Pennsylvania’s voter registry.

At his investigation’s initial hearing last Thursday, Dush announced his intention to hold the Department of State (DOS) accountable for the mismanagement identified in the audit by calling the department to testify at the committee’s next hearing to be scheduled soon. 

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Pennsylvania Congressman Lamb Silent on National Archives Labeling Constitution for ‘Harmful Language’

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has slapped “Harmful Language” warnings on online displays of American founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA-17) is keeping quiet about it.

The Star News Network emailed Lamb’s press office Friday to ascertain his view of the matter. Neither the congressman—who recently announced a bid for U.S. Senate—nor his staff have replied.

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Studies Point to Varied Effects of Masking

Crowded street market with people wearing masks

New research published by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Bangladesh, which tracked mask-wearing among 340,000 Bangladeshi adults, indicates mask usage can considerably reduce the spread of symptomatic COVID-19. 

Some medical professionals, however, remain uneasy about mask mandates in schools because of their possible impact on children’s learning and social health.

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Public May Not See Net Benefit of Infrastructure Bill That Could Expand Rail in Northeastern Pennsylvania

Much fanfare surrounding infrastructure legislation in Congress focuses on road and bridge improvements, but the bill’s implications for relatively costly rail transit in northeastern Pennsylvania and elsewhere have gotten far less attention.

The current proposal to spend $66 billion on Amtrak would be the largest federal expenditure on passenger rail since the creation of the transit agency.

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While Pennsylvania Democrats Want to Increase Welfare Payments, Some Experts Urge Focus on Bigger Picture

Democrats in the Pennsylvania General Assembly hope to increase monthly welfare benefits in Pennsylvania, reasoning that payments under the federally funded Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program have stayed flat since the 1990s, falling well behind inflation. 

Legislation being drafted by state Sen. Katie Muth (D-PA-Royersford) and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-PA-Philadelphia) would increase Pennsylvania’s TANF benefits, which average $403 per month for a family of three in most counties.

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Science on Mask Usage Indicates Scant Benefit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that all schools require mask-wearing indoors by teachers and students, vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

And many school districts are adopting that requirement, to the dismay of many parents.

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Fulton County, Pennsylvania Defends Post-2020 Election Audit and Right to Keep Voting Machines

Fulton County, Pennsylvania election officials are defending their decision to conduct an audit of the 2020 election in their jurisdiction and their right to continue use of their voting machines.

Attorneys from Dillon, McCandless, King, Coulter & Graham LLP who are affiliated with an election-integrity nonprofit known as the Amistad Project, will be handling the case for the small county of about 14,500 residents, situated about 90 miles southwest of Harrisburg.

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Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Vos Expands Election Probe

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Friday he plans to hire more investigators and anticipates allowing more time for a probe into the 2020 presidential contest for Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral-College votes, the Associated Press has reported.

The official vote count in Wisconsin last November put Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump by 20,682 votes. The margin was just over 0.6 percent of the nearly 3.3 million votes cast statewide. 

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Opponents of Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf’s COVID Orders Present Case to Third Circuit Court

Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia on Thursday, legal counsel for several Pennsylvania counties as well as numerous public officials and private companies, argued Governor Tom Wolf (D) abused his police powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the private-sector compainaints charge that the governor’s shutdown of and other demands on businesses during parts of 2020 and 2021 violate the takings clause and the due-process clause of the U.S. Constitution. All plaintiffs, governmental and private, further insist that the governor’s restrictions on public gatherings over the past year violated the rights of assembly, association and religion secured by the First Amendment. 

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