Allegheny Co. pols get down to basics on how to avoid sending naked ballots | Monday Morning Coffee

September 28, 2020 7:14 am

(Bethany Hallam, Twitter)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If you live in Allegheny County, and you’d never heard about the growing flap over “naked ballots,” and why they might result in your vote not getting counted in the Nov. 3 general election, you have now.

In an admittedly hilarious — but no less critical — social media campaign — Allegheny County Council member Bethany Hallam rounded up two of her friends, state House candidate Emily Kinkead, and fellow council member Liv Bennet, for an unforgettable moment of voter education.

“Hey, I have this wild idea. Let’s get naked to try to save our democracy,” Hallam, an at-large member of county council, wrote on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.

As reporter Ryan Deto, of our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper wrote in a piece the Capital-Star published last week, there’s genuine concern that Pennsylvanians who are voting by mail for the first time this year, might forget to put their ballot in a mandatory secrecy envelope before they return their ballot in the mail, pop it into a drop box, or deliver it to their local county election board.

It’s a particular concern for Democrats, considering that President Donald Trump carried the state by scarcely more than 44,000 votes in 2016, and more than 100,000 ballots could end up getting rejected in November, Deto wrote.

(Bethany Hallam, Twitter)

So, from left above, in stepped KinkeadBennet, and Hallam with some … er … visual aids, as they laid out the three, very important steps that voters need to observe as they go about filling in and returning their mail-in ballots this voting season.

“If you don’t do even one of those two things, your ballot will be thrown out and you won’t even know,” Hallam told the Tribune-Review on Sunday afternoon. “If we have to get naked to get this message across, that’s what we’re willing to do.”

Kinkead chimed in on Twitter: “No one wants a naked politician – or a naked ballot! Don’t forget your secrecy envelope when you mail in your ballot,” she wrote.

Not everyone appreciated the attempt at voter education. Former GOP U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus was among those to pronounce themselves outraged.

“And this is the crowd that thinks [Trump] is vulgar? Really?,” he harrumphed on Twitter. “So looking forward to [the] confirmation of [Amy Coney Barrett] as our next Supreme Court justice.”

A more typical reaction was wry amusement and appreciation, including one wit who quipped, “Thanks for keeping me abreast of these voting regulations.”

According to the Tribune-Review other Democratic women elected officials from western Pennsylvania are scheduled to join the campaign starting today. They include Etna Councilwoman Jessica Semler, state Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, and Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
Speaking of mail-in ballots, in this week’s edition of The Numbers RacketCassie Miller takes a deep dive into recent Franklin & Marshall College polling data reinforcing their popularity among Pennsylvania voters.

Elizabeth Hardison has a must-read piece running down the simmering debate over a Senate bill that would require Pennsylvania’s appointed state victim’s advocate to be a licensed attorney. It would have the practical effect, if approved, of ushering current, long-serving advocate Jennifer Storm (a non-lawyer) out of her job

From our sibling site, The Arizona Mirror, here’s an in-depth look at what states across the nation are doing to make sure their elections are secure. If nothing else, you can take comfort from the fact that Pennsylvania is not alone in this scramble to guarantee a secure vote.

President Donald Trump did a bounce at Harrisburg International Airport on Saturday night, where he said the things you might have expected him to say. The stop came just hours after Trump made the formal announcement that he’d picked Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Stephen Caruso has the details on the rally. Our Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa explains the coming debate over Coney Barrett’s nomination, along with reactions from U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Dick Polman has a few thoughts about Trump’s most recent prevarications on the pandemic. And an expert offers some additional tips on protecting yourself from pandemic scammers.

En la Estrella-CapitalElección 2020: Su guía para votar en Pa.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:


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Here’s last nights sunset to start off the week ? ?

A post shared by Michael Yatsko (@yatsko) on

The organizers of Philly’s homeless encampment say they’ve reached a tentative deal with the city to relocate, WHYY-FM reports.
Free COVID-19 testing in State College started on Friday — featuring long waits, WPSU-FM reports.
has last week’s winners & losers in state politics.
Mothers are three times more likely than fathers
 to have lost their jobs during the pandemic, reports.
NYMag’s Intelligencer has the key takeaways
 from the NYT’s story about President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Gov. Tom Wolf
 and Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith hold a 1 p.m. newser at PEMA HQ to talk about substance abuse issues amid the pandemic.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out to Kadida Kenner, of the Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center; to longtime Friend O’The Blog, Rick Taylor, of Ambler, Pa., and to Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Vinny Vella, all of whom celebrated on Sunday. Best wishes all around, friends.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from U2 to get the working week rolling. It’s an acoustic version of ‘Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
The Guardian has 10 talking points from this weekend’s round of Premier League action for your Zoom water cooler talk this morning.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.