Pennsylvania

Articles about voting issues in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania: Judge grants stay in state gerrymandering lawsuit as federal lawsuit gets December trial date | WPMT

A Commonwealth Court judge Monday granted a stay in the state lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s Congressional district map, as a district judge set a December trial date in a federal lawsuit also seeking to force lawmakers to re-draw the map. Respondents to the state lawsuit, filed by the League of Women Voters PA, argued a ruling should be stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Gill v. Whitford, a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin. Oral arguments in that case were heard earlier this month, and the Supreme Court justices are continuing to deliberate on that case. The separate lawsuits hope to reach the same end result, but are using different methods to do so. Read More

Pennsylvania: Plaintiffs in redistricting case ask State Supreme Court to intervene | PennLive

A group of Democratic Party voters who argue their voices are muted in Pennsylvania’s congressional elections by “rigged” district lines have asked the state Supreme Court to immediately take up the case. The application for extraordinary relief was filed Wednesday night after Commonwealth Court Judge Daniel Pellegrini indicated he would stay the case – initially filed in the lower court – until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a different gerrymandering case out of Wisconsin. That delay, however, would likely make it impossible for the Pennsylvania case to have any relevance in the coming 2018 election cycle. Read More

Pennsylvania: Secretary of State Pedro Cortes resigns abruptly | Philadelphia Inquirer

Pedro Cortes, Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, abruptly resigned from office Wednesday, three weeks after his agency came under criticism for a glitch that may have allowed thousands of ineligible immigrants statewide to vote. Cortes’ departure was announced in a 349-word “personnel update” emailed from Gov. Wolf’s office that offered no reason and focused almost entirely on his replacement, interim Secretary of State Robert Torres. Just 14 of the words were about Cortes, who also served as secretary of state from 2003 to 2010 under Gov. Ed Rendell. J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for Wolf, said he could not offer an explanation for Cortes’ departure. Read More

Pennsylvania: Gerrymandering, ‘political laser surgery,’ stokes fresh ire, legal fights | Philadelphia Inquirer

The proposal — letting a nonpartisan citizens commission, rather than politicians, draw lines for electoral districts — isn’t novel. It was presented by Carol Kuniholm, the executive director of Fair Districts PA, last week in Center City at a forum that focused on gerrymandering — a practice in which a party in power contorts legislative and congressional boundaries to its electoral advantage. Complaints about gerrymandering, a name derived from a 19th century Massachusetts governor and U.S. vice president who was a notorious practitioner, date to nearly the founding of the republic, notes David Thornburgh, head of the nonpartisan political watchdog group the Committee of Seventy. What is different these days is that the practices and the efforts to change them have reached perhaps unprecedented levels, said Thornburgh, who participated in that forum at the Pyramid Club, 52 floors above the streets of Center City, which included business and civic leaders. And this has been a particularly brisk period. Read More

Pennsylvania: Judge: Redistricting lawsuit running out of time to alter 2018 elections | York Dispatch

A gerrymandering lawsuit filed against Pennsylvania legislative leaders went to court Wednesday, Oct. 4, but it could be several months before the courts hear opening arguments in the case, according to the judge who presided over the hearing. Lawyers representing the legislative leaders and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania squared off in Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg over the leaders’ attempt to halt the League’s lawsuit. The lawsuit claims Republicans engaged in extreme partisan gerrymandering when drawing the current congressional maps in 2011. Lawyers for the League are seeking a ruling from the court that strikes down the congressional maps and orders new maps to be drawn before the 2018 election. Read More

Pennsylvania: Federal Court Lambastes Conservative Effort To Strip Felon Voting Rights In Philadelphia | HuffPost

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against the Philadelphia City Commissioners that tried to force the city to purge convicted felons from the voter rolls, using scathing language against a conservative group that brought the suit. Felons in Pennsylvania cannot vote while they are incarcerated, but are eligible to do so upon release. The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), a conservative group that has pushed for more aggressive voting rights restrictions across the country, said felons should be removed from the voter rolls after incarceration and sued the city, alleging it was violating the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which sets guidance for how states can purge their voter rolls. Judge C. Darnell Jones II of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a George W. Bush appointment, dismissed the lawsuit last year. Read More

Pennsylvania: System glitch let non-citizens register to vote | Associated Press

Some people who are in the U.S. legally but who are not citizens were mistakenly allowed to register to vote in Philadelphia because of a glitch in Pennsylvania’s electronic driver’s licensing system, a city election official said Wednesday. Al Schmidt, a Republican who sits on Philadelphia’s three-member election commission, said that since 2006 at least 168 noncitizens registered to vote in the city through the motor voter driver’s licensing system. In some cases, they voted, and some of them voted in more than one election, Schmidt said. Schmidt said he became aware of those people because they had contacted his office. Many more noncitizens could have mistakenly registered through the system in Philadelphia and elsewhere in Pennsylvania, he said. Read More

Pennsylvania: Challenges persist in funding election system upgrades | WITF

Election officials across the country are trying to make sure voting infrastructure is up to date, after concerns over potential hacking in the 2016 election. Pennsylvania is no exception. In 2002, the federal government handed down almost $4 billion for states to update their voting machines and other election equipment. Most states–including Pennsylvania–have long since drained their share. Read More

Pennsylvania: Court To Decide Whether To Hear Gerrymandering Suit Similar To Case Before US Supreme Court | WSKG

Tom Rentschler, an attorney and former high school teacher, has lived in Berks County for most of his life. He remembers as a young adult going to the grocery store and bumping into his local congressman. But Rentschler, 53, says over time he and other voters in Berks County have lost their voice. “I just don’t think we have anyone speaking for our county,” he says. Berks County once made up a large portion of the 6th U.S. Congressional District. But the last time districts were redrawn in 2011, Berks’ more than 400,000 residents were sliced and diced into four separate congressional districts. Read More

Pennsylvania: An Allegheny County election integrity coalition won’t get a ballot question but is still pushing for new laws | The Incline

A referendum effort to get a question about election integrity on the November ballot may have failed, but the coalition behind it still plans to lobby the Allegheny County Council to pass legislation. A coalition of groups including Don’t Tread on My Vote and VoteAllegheny plan to rally at the City-County building at 4 p.m. today and attend the 5 p.m. meeting of county council. As the activists previously explained to the Post-Gazette, their main aim is to get the county to create a commission to review voting machines and eventually have them replaced with ones that leave a paper trail. … With the referendum effort done, the coalition now plans to focus on lobbying county council to pass a 16-page ordinance it drafted or similar legislation. Read More