Crunch Time: Pa. election fixes take center stage | Tuesday Morning Coffee

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 23: Signage at an early voting center on September 23, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minnesota residents can vote in the general election every day until Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

The Republican-controlled state Senate returns to Harrisburg this Tuesday morning for its first voting sessions of a very busy fall with one task chiefly before it: Unsnarling a mess of its own creation last week when a Senate panel rushed to report out a House-approved voting reform bill without providing proper public notice of that vote.

As the Capital-Star was the first to report last week, the Senate State Government Committee will take a mulligan on that vote during a session off the floor sometime today. The House bill, among other things, effectively eliminates drop-boxes, even as it advances the deadline for voters to request a mail-in ballot.

Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to veto the bill in its present form. Last week, Wolf said (and Republicans confirmed) that talks on the legislation had ground to a halt.

Legislative Republicans, as is their wont, have accused the Democrat of governing by fiat, rather than trying to engage them in active discussion. But if you’ve ever been in a Fiat, then you know how hard it is to squeeze three people in there, let alone a bunch of legislative leaders, their staff, one governor, executive branch staff, and stakeholders.

Oh … wait … what? Not that kind of Fiat?

Well, you get the idea. No one’s talking to anyone about anything.

Supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gather across the street from PA AFL-CIO headquarters on Monday, 9/7/20 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Mail-in ballots were very much on the minds of labor leaders, who gathered in Harrisburg Monday for a Labor Day campaign stop by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who was in the Capital City to rally the labor faithful.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine mail-in balloting. The president has falsely claimed on the stump that mail-in voting is ripe for fraud and will allow Democrats to steal the election. The labor leader had similar scorn for the bill now before the General Assembly.

“I think they [Republicans] are doing it because Trump asked them to,” Bloomingdale told the Capital-Star on Monday. “No one said drop boxes were an issue when the bill passed. Last year they were safe, and now they’re not … it’s just a political stunt.”

In a separate interview, Democratic 10th Congressional District candidate Eugene DePasquale said Republicans, who profit from absentee balloting, should be in favor of making it as easy as possible for people to cast their ballots safely and securely.

“Every elected official should want every voter to cast a vote, have them counted in an accurate way, and live with the result.” DePasquale told the Capital-Star on Monday.

Biden has come out in favor of mail-in balloting, a position he reiterated on Monday.

Last month, after news broke that Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had requested an absentee ballot from their home state of Florida, Biden tweeted, “Voting by mail is safe and secure. And don’t take my word for it: Take it from the President, who just requested his mail-in ballot for the Florida primary …”

Mail-in ballots go out to tens of thousands of Pennsylvania voters starting Sept. 14.

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

Our Stuff.

Here’s our full story, penned by your humble newsletter author, and Capital-Star NEPA Correspondent Patrick Abdalla, on Joe Biden’s swing through central Pennsylvania on Monday.

Correspondent Nick Field crunches the latest round of voter registration numbers, finding a late-summer surge for Pennsylvania Republicans.

ICYMI: Abdalla goes deep on the electoral math in northeastern Pennsylvania and what that means for Biden and President Donald Trump.

Cassie Miller looks at the latest Pennsylvania unemployment data in this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

And Stephen Caruso finds the Trump campaign pointing to a GOP state House candidate as evidence in a federal lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s mail-in balloting law.

Our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News explain what gay dating is like in the time of COVID-19.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a University of Pittsburgh expert explains that steroids cut COVID-19 death rates, but not for everyone. And a York College of Pennsylvania expert and a colleague from Norway highlight the benefits of cooperation between U.S. intelligence operations and their overseas partners.

En la Estrella-Capital, los Republicanos de la Cámara nuevamente ignoran las llamadas de Wolf para la legalización recreativa del cannabis. Y nuevas pautas de Pa. le permiten a las familias y otros para proporcionar cuidado en persona en los hogares de ancianos.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden would like to win Pennsylvania in 2020 (Capital-Star file)

Elsewhere.
The Inquirer
 answers the five questions that will decide the 2020 presidential race in Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh police are looking for information on clashes between protesters and the public in the Steel City, the Tribune-Review reports.
PennLive talks to Joe Biden supporters who rallied for him during his appearance in Harrisburg on Monday.
The Associated Press takes up the question of whether more U.S. House seats will flip in Pennsylvania (via The Morning Call).
First year student enrollment at Misericordia University in Luzerne County is down 14 percent this term, the Citizens-Voice reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. The same city that Donald Trump described as looking “like a war zone” 4 years ago when he visited. Just another lie from his playbook. Today, the next president of these United States will be visiting our beautiful city. 🇺🇸 #ridinwithbiden #harrisburgpa #djimavicmini #pennlive #hburgmade #city_captures #skypixel #dronephotography #cherishburg #onlyinpennsylvania #pacollective #ig_pennsylvania #visitpa #pennsylvaniaisbeautiful #vote2020 #voteblue2020 #voteforchange #harrisburg #susquehannariver #sunset_brilliance #unitedwestand #americathebeautiful #cityscape #raw_pennsylvania #sunset_vision #bns_sunset #unlimitedsunset #hometownlove #ig_photooftheday #justinwardphotography

A post shared by Justin Ward (@justin_ward_photography) on

Hundreds of workers rallied at Philadelphia City Hall on Monday for pandemic protections, WHYY-FM reports.
Erie is reviewing its Airbnb ordinance amid the pandemic, GoErie reports.
Stateline.org explains how the pandemic is worsening financial conditions at newspapers, even as there’s a hunger for more information.
Politico looks at the eight states where the 2020 race will be won or lost. And, yep, Pennsylvania is on the list.

They Said It.
“It’s not the financial wizards of Wall Street who make this country run — it’s you, the essential workers. Wall Street did not build this country … it was built by unions.” — Former Vice President Joe Biden, during his campaign stop in Harrisburg on Monday.

What Goes On.
The Senate comes in at 3 p.m. Here’s a look at the day’s committee action.
10 a.m., Senate Chamber: Senate Communications & Technology Committee
11 a.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office Building: Senate Law & Justice Committee
12 p.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office Building: Senate Judiciary Committee
12:30 p.m., Senate Chamber: Senate Local Government Committee
1:30 p.m., Senate Chamber: Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee
Off the Floor: Senate State Government Committee
Off the Floor: Senate Appropriations Committee
Off the Floor: Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee
Also:
12:30 p.m, Soldiers & Sailors Grove: Rally for first responders.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
 heads to Lancaster for a 10:15 a.m. event where he’ll again call on the Legislature to pass eviction protections.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Scott Martin
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. John Blake
12 p.m.: Luncheon for Sen. Tom Killion
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Kim Ward
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a truly preposterous $11,000 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to Sarah Wojcik, of the Morning Call, who celebrated on Sunday.
Up to date congrats go out to Christen Smith, of the Center Square, and to longtime Friend O’The BlogLisa Marie Benzie, who celebrate today. Congratulations all around.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a solo classic from Dream Syndicate frontman Steve Wynn. From 1999’s ‘My Midnight,’ it’s ‘Nothing But the Shell.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Powered by a 10-run sixth inning, Toronto bested New York 12-7 on Monday.

And now you’re up to date.

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press