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Profile Information

Name: Kathy Hinsman
Gender: Female
Hometown: Pittsburgh PA
Home country: USA
Current location: Pittsburgh
Member since: Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:16 PM
Number of posts: 23,678

Journal Archives

Editorial: Botched Lancaster ballots undermine voter confidence

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2022/05/19/parties-must-work-together-to-enhance-voter-confidence-in-elections/stories/202205190132

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 20, 2022

16,000 botched mail-in votes in Lancaster County could determine the outcome of the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Now, imagine a similar scenario playing out in a Pennsylvania county in the 2024 presidential election. It could lead to a constitutional crisis.

“Election integrity” may have become a Republican talking point, but it’s responding to two genuine realities: Regular snafus in the collecting and counting of votes, such as the Lancaster mess, and understandable unease among voters about the competent administration of elections. Yes, some people prattle about “election integrity” in a cynical bid to undermine results they don’t like, and disappointed candidates try to console themselves by claiming the other side stole the election.

But there are also many, many voters who are innocently concerned for America’s democratic institutions. They look at major mistakes like Lancaster’s and worry: “Can we trust this process? Does it matter if I vote?” Not because they’re conspiracy theorists or wannabe insurrectionists, but because these are reasonable questions to ask.

Some try to dismiss these citizens as anti-democratic cranks, but this is counterproductive. It denies the observable reality of election mistakes, and only increases suspicion as people wonder why their honest concern is treated with derision. Screaming “nothing to see here!” always attracts more attention than it distracts.

In Lancaster, a coding error made by the county’s mail-in ballot vendor (NPC Inc., of Blair County) rendered 16,000 ballots unreadable by scanners. Now county officials have to painstakingly fill in new ballots based on the originals, then scan them. This is, incredibly, the second time in two years — with different vendors! — the county has had to do this.

The process is moving forward with professionalism. Three people are involved with each ballot: One who reads the original, one who marks the replacement and one who watches to make sure they got it right. Representatives for GOP Senate frontrunners Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick, who are currently separated by fewer than 1,500 votes statewide, are circulating. We have every reason to believe the count will be accurate.

- more at link -

Can the Lancaster County Board of Elections at least hire a proofreader? How about a trained volunteer? SOMEBODY has to check these ballots before they get printed and mailed.

Lancaster County reports issues with mail-in ballots

Link to AP story: https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-government-and-politics-pennsylvania-lancaster-bd842e11a00211eb61e8e4fcd53adbc8

3:36 p.m.

Lancaster County reports issues with mail-in ballots

An error by a company that prints ballots for several Pennsylvania counties made thousands of mail-in ballots unreadable Tuesday as voters were deciding hotly contested primaries for governor and U.S. Senate in one of the nation’s most important battleground states.

Officials in Lancaster County, the state’s sixth most populous, said the problem involved at least 21,000 mailed ballots, only a third of which were scanning properly. The glitch will force election workers to redo ballots that can’t be read by the machine, a laborious process expected to take several days. Officials in the GOP-controlled county pledged that all the ballots will be counted eventually.

“Citizens deserve to have accurate results from elections and they deserve to have them on election night, not days later,” Josh Parsons, a Republican and vice chair of the county board of commissioners, said at a news conference. “But because of this, we’re not going to have final election results from these mail ballots for probably several days, so that is very, very frustrating to us.”

The Lancaster Board of Elections, of which Parsons is a member, renewed its criticism of a 2019 state voting law that expanded mail-in balloting but prevented counties from opening mailed ballots before Election Day to check for errors.

The board said the law, which passed the legislature with bipartisan support, also forces counties to use vendors to print ballots rather than doing them in house.

“Act 77 is untenable for us as counties to continue to work in elections and not have problems like this,” said Ray D’Agostino, chairman of the Lancaster board.

The vendor’s error left county officials with the task of having to hand-mark thousands of fresh ballots, a process that was expected to start Wednesday morning. For ballots that won’t scan, county election workers will recreate voters’ choices on blank ballots, and then scan those.

— Associated Press

Please note: the excerpt above is from the same AP story that was published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette today. However the link to the AP Wire story on top of the page is more complete and more recent.

Pa.'s richest person has spent $18 million on the 2022 primary -- mostly to influence one issue

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/16/jeff-yass-pennsylvania-primary-spending-democrats-republicans-influence-philadelphia-spotlight/stories/202205160073

HARRISBURG — What does a conservative upstart challenging a top House Republican in York County have in common with a scion of a Democratic political family facing a progressive primary in Philadelphia?

Despite differing priorities and positions, both candidates’ campaigns are beneficiaries of the political largess of billionaire Jeff Yass, a Montgomery County investor and Pennsylvania’s richest denizen. A billionaire who turned gambling winnings into one of the largest stock trading companies in the U.S., Mr. Yass is a registered Libertarian, according to Pennsylvania Department of State records.

- snip -

Mr. Yass’ allies, including many who spend or have sought his dollars, argue he is a single-issue donor who backs candidates who support alternatives to public schools.

“It’s no secret,” longtime conservative activist Matt Brouillette said. “Where Jeff and [his wife] Janine invest their philanthropy and political dollars, they are passionate about getting kids to better schools.”

But critics from various political backgrounds argued Mr. Yass’ spending prioritizes peddling influence or inserting his ideology into both major parties, whether the issue is privatizing public schools or cutting taxes.

- more at link -

(caption) A graphic showing how Jeff Yass' money filters through several PACs to reach a candidate.
(Graphic by Spotlight PA)

Pittsburgh to Ukraine: Locals prepare for overseas journey to deliver humanitarian aid

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2022/05/16/pittsburgh-leaders-ukraine-refugee-humanitarian-aid-europe-russia-moscow/stories/202205160049

Whether stuffed to the brim in suitcases, or packed high onto wooden pallets, medical supplies are much needed by Ukrainians during Russia’s invasion — and two Pittsburghers are prepared to deliver that aid themselves this month.

During separate but overlapping voyages, Duquesne music professor Steve Benham and the Rev. Jason Charron of the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie are ready to take hygiene kits, medical prescriptions, and first aid packages to Ukrainians holding out in the fourth month of the grinding war.

Ten suitcases of supplies were packaged by Music and World Cultures, the nonprofit where Mr. Benham serves as president, and which boasts decades-long ties to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Father Charron is helping the Brother’s Brother Foundation oversee its own delivery, the result of a fundraising drive where local hospital chains and Pittsburghers donated over 80 pallets worth of critical supplies.

- more at link above -

Brother's Brother Foundation is a non-denominational disaster-relief organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Brother's Brother has gone all over the world wherever medical help and supplies are needed, following hurricanes, earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. Currently a humanitarian trip to Lviv, Ukraine through Poland is planned for May 25th.

Learn more about Brother's Brother Foundation and donate here: https://brothersbrother.org/

Trying to decide if this cartoon is funny (or not)

Do you remember high school algebra, and solving quadratic equations?

Here's a funny take on "logical" algebra:

(Found on Reddit)

Better version provided by CloudWatcher - Thanks!

John Fetterman makes blitz through southwestern Pa. ahead of primary

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/10/us-senate-candidate-john-fetterman-southwestern-pennsylvania-counties-ahead-of-primary/stories/202205100137

GREENSBURG — In a sweep through the blue-collar counties of southwestern Pennsylvania on Tuesday that ended on the patio of a brewery, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman said the Democratic Party cannot afford to turn its back on any of the state’s 67 counties — no matter how red they are — if it wants to flip one of the country’s most important U.S. Senate seats this November.

Mr. Fetterman, the front-runner who is running against U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta in next Tuesday’s Democratic primary, said it’s not about turning the reddest counties blue, but about trimming into the margins here and halting the enthusiasm behind the eventual GOP nominee.

Democrats in red counties are the soul of the party, Mr. Fetterman said, and the winner of next week’s primary will need every county and every vote.

“Is there a new law that says a vote in Greensburg counts less than a vote in Pittsburgh?” Mr. Fetterman asked the crowd at El Diablo Brewing Co. & Wood Fired Kitchen. “Your votes count the same everywhere. That’s why we go everywhere.”

- more at link -

John Fetterman is a smart man and a hard-working Dem leader.

Bob Casey, an anti-abortion Dem, to vote with his party in symbolic abortion bill push Wednesday

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2022/05/10/bob-casey-roe-v-wade-womens-health-protection-act-vote-aye-yes-pa-democrat-senator-codify-right-access-to-abortion/stories/202205100091

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bob Casey, an outlier in his party for his anti-abortion stance, said he will vote in favor of legislation to protect a woman’s access to abortion — a largely symbolic vote just over a week after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion revealed the body is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Pennsylvania Democrat said that he will be an “aye” on Wednesday’s upper-chamber vote to codify Roe because he disagrees with the Texas law at issue in the high court case that would ban abortion at six weeks amid speculation about possible federal legislation that could follow.

“In the nearly three months since the Senate last voted on the Women’s Health Protection Act, the circumstances around the entire debate on abortion have changed. In light of the leaked Supreme Court decision draft overturning Roe v. Wade, and subsequent reports that Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate will introduce legislation to enact a nationwide six-week ban, the real question of the moment is: do you support a categorical ban on abortion? During my time in public office, I have never voted for — nor do I support — such a ban,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

Mr. Casey voted in favor in February when the bill, as expected, failed to advance. The effort Wednesday is likely doomed again in the evenly split Senate, as Democrats will not be able to pick up enough votes to meet the 60-vote threshold and still do not have enough support to break the filibuster.

- more at link -

Longtime Pennsylvanians will recall that Sen. Casey's father, (the late) Gov. Bob Casey Sr. was a long-time opponent to women's rights and their freedom to choose. The Casey family are Catholic, raised to believe that abortion is a sin. But Senator Bob Casey Jr. has modified his faith to recognize that not all religions hold the same beliefs. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette says he's "anti-abortion" however I can't recall him being anything other than Pro-Choice.

Pa. U.S. Senate Poll: John Fetterman takes commanding lead among Dems ...

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2022/05/05/pa-us-senate-poll-john-fetterman-dr-oz-david-mccormick-conor-lamb-2022-election/stories/202205050070

This story was updated at 2:07 p.m.

While Republicans remain split over their own candidates, more than half of all the registered Democratic voters who were surveyed by Franklin & Marshall College in late April said they plan to vote for John Fetterman in the U.S. Senate primary, according to a poll released Thursday.

Mr. Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, leads U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb 53% to 14% in the new poll, which surveyed 357 registered Democrats from April 20 to May 1. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta registered in third place at 4%, with Jenkintown Councilwoman Alex Khalil trailing the pack at 1%.

This represents a 12-point bump for Mr. Fetterman since the last F&M poll, conducted in early April when he was at 41%. In that time frame, Mr. Lamb dropped 3 points and Mr. Kenyatta didn’t move the needle.

In the GOP field for Senate, there’s no clear frontrunner in the new poll of 325 registered Republicans, but Dr. Mehmet Oz appeared to get a slight bump in the last month from former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.

- more at link -

Please note: this is the same poll that was criticized by Conor Lamb that the sampling is so small - 357 registered Democrats. Fair enough. However the recent challenge to Roe v Wade and the suggestion that SCOTUS may reverse its ruling, is further proof that aggressive Democratic leadership is needed in the Senate. Pennsylvania must elect a Democrat to the Senate for this reason alone! We can't leave it up to chance - we must do our part to keep our Dem majority in the Senate. I believe John Fetterman can do exactly that!

Doug Mastriano is leading the PA primary for governor, and GOP insiders are trying to stop him

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/02/doug-mastriano-for-governor-pa-republican-primary-election-insiders-front-runner/stories/202205020016

The ominous mailer has an image of Doug Mastriano on one side. The other has a clipping from a news article reporting that the state senator wanted the federal government to suspend privacy laws so local health departments could “release names and locations” of COVID-19 patients.

“We can’t trust Doug Mastriano,” warns the mailer, which was paid for by a well-funded conservative political group and sent to Republican primary voters last week.

The attack was the clearest sign yet that most Pennsylvania Republican insiders see Mr. Mastriano, one of the state’s leading election deniers, as the front-runner for the party’s nomination for governor — and are increasingly worried about it.

Less than three weeks before the May 17 primary election, polls and interviews with campaign advisers and other GOP insiders suggest the nine-candidate race remains a tossup. The share of voters who say they are undecided — as high as 40%, according to an April Franklin & Marshall College survey — is unusually high this late in the campaign. That might be partly because it’s the biggest GOP gubernatorial primary field since 1978, when Dick Thornburgh won with just 33% of the vote.

- more at link -

This article is a discussion of the major GOP candidates including Mastriano, McSwain, White, and Barletta.

As most of us Pennsylvanians know, Mastriano is particularly loathsome for the part he tried to play in Chump's "Big Lie" last year.

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