How Pennsylvania’s looking to increase voting access and election security

  • Emily Previti, PA Post

From The Context, PA Post’s weekday email newsletter:

Monday kicks off two solid weeks of Ed Mahon-authored newsletters while I vacation. Travel plans again include a race — specifically, a half-marathon in New England (where the forecast’s 15 degrees cooler) – in addition to time with friends and family. -Emily Previti, Newsletter Producer/Reporter

Election section

ExpressVote touch-screen machine on display.

Lucy Perkins / WESA

ExpressVote touch-screen machine on display.

  • Allegheny County’s voting machine expo earlier this week was the first of multiple scheduled this month as Pa.’s wide-scale voting machine replacement continues ahead of the 2020 primary. Delaware’s expo was last night; additional events are set in Lawrence, Dauphin and Columbia counties.

  • Absentee voting is the focus of a lawsuit that was up in court this week in Philadelphia. The Public Interest Law Center argues Pennsylvania doesn’t allow enough time for absentee voters to request, receive and return ballots before the Oct. 31 deadline (earlier than any other state). Keystone Crossroads’ Naomi Brauner has this story out of court proceedings.

  • Lawmakers, meanwhile, moved a slew of bills this week that would increase access to absentee ballots, require employers to allow workers leave to vote, let unaffiliated voters participate in primaries and make other changes to state voting and elections laws. The Daily Item has more details here.

Best of the rest

Workers vacuum fluids surrounding a frack site in Harford Township, Susquehanna County, Pa.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Workers vacuum fluids surrounding a frack site in Harford Township, Susquehanna County, Pa.

  • A $4.5 billion infrastructure plan moved closer to reality this week, in a way, with enabling legislation getting introduced. But Republican legislative leaders remain opposed to Gov. Tom Wolf’s Restore Pa. initiative, dubbed a “debt-financed slush fund” in a news release from House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny. It would, in fact, rely on issuing bonds. The debt would be repaid by a severance tax on natural gas drillers, which Turzai has long opposed, reports Katie Meyer in this story for WITF.

  • The state would take over the online health insurance exchange currently run by the feds under a bill moving through the legislature. Other states have already saved money by setting up similar systems, which Pa. is drawing from. Transforming Health’s Brett Sholtis explains here.

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it doesn’t have enough money to properly oversee and force improvements at struggling nursing homes, WESA’s Sarah Boden reports. CMMS’s statement came after Pa.’s two U.S. Senators published a list of the nation’s most troubled facilities — 16 of which are in the commonwealth, noted Daniel Simmons-Ritchie of PennLive (if you’ve missed them: Dan’s past investigative series on the issue and follow-up).

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