Pa. progressives launch multi-lingual push to make it easier to vote | Wednesday Morning Coffee

August 19, 2020 7:08 am

Voters line up at a polling place on Election Day. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Even as President Donald Trump rails against mail-in ballots and makes false accusations that they’re ripe for fraud, a progressive group in Pennsylvania has announced a new website aimed at making it easier for people to request a ballot, check their registration, and register to vote if they have not done so already.

The site, VOTE.Pa, offers its services in Spanish, Korean, and Simplified Chinese, J.J. Abbott, the executive director of Commonwealth Communications, which is behind the effort, said in an email.

“This site, fully translated into four languages, will serve as a one-stop shop for Pennsylvania voters,” Abbott, a former spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf, said. “If we are going to increase voter turnout in November, and make real progress for everyone who calls our commonwealth home, we must ensure every voter has access to the ballot box — that’s exactly what VOTE.Pa helps accomplish.”

On Tuesday, tensions between the Trump White House and the states were ratcheted up another notch, as attorneys generals in 20 states, including Pennsylvania, announced they planned to sue the U.S. Postal Service over service delays that threaten the timely delivery of mail-in ballots.

Hours later, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump, abruptly announced he was rolling back service changes until after the Nov. 3 election, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Allison Stevens wrote.

Senior Pennsylvania Democrats, such as U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.welcomed the apparent pivot. Nonetheless, DeJoy will still face aggressive questioning when he appears before a Senate committee later this week. Casey also said DeJoy has to follow up his words with actual action.

“This is not an administration whose word you can trust,” Casey said Tuesday, during a conference call where he was joined by Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Wolf added: “For generations, Pennsylvanians have relied on the Postal Service … Now, we’re relying on the Postal Service to undergird our democracy.”

(Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Abbott’s group stressed the need for full participation in the November canvass. President Donald Trump carried the state by less than a percentage point in 2016. Recent polls have shown former Vice President Joe Biden, a Scranton native, leading Trump in Pennsylvania.

“In a moment where Black and Brown voters are being disenfranchised more nationwide, VOTE.PA widens the door for an easy voter experience,” William Renderos, the civic engagement and electoral data manager for the Latino advocacy group, CASA in Action, said in a statement. “Spanish-dominant Latino voters can look forward to exercising their right to vote through CASA in Action and also by using this site, all without the headache that Trump’s malicious misinformation campaigns cause. That makes it easier to change the tide come the fall.”

The site was launched in partnership with some of the state’s leading progressive groups: America Votes Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania, Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, CASA in Action, Pennsylvania Stands Up, One Pennsylvania, and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. 

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
We have a full package of coverage from Tuesday’s developments surrounding the Postal Service. Washington Reporter Allison Stevens runs down the action on Capitol Hill. And Stephen Caruso, with an assist from your humble newsletter author, has the Pennsylvania reaction and details on Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s emerging legal action.

State Rep Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, along with U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle and Conor Lamb opened the second night of the virtual Democratic National ConventionCaruso has what you need to know there, too.

Pennsylvania will roll out a new contract-tracing app in September that will let users know if they’ve potentially been exposed to COVID-19, Elizabeth Hardison reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning, two advocates say the road to a COVID-19 recovery has to include mass-transit funding.

In case there’s any doubt, Pa. school students will have to wear masks when they head back to class, the Inquirer reports.
State labor officials are moving to get an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits, the Post-Gazette reports.
Attendees at a town hall in Harrisburg say a proposed police advisory board bill doesn’t go far enough, PennLive reports (paywall).
At Lehigh Valley Hospital, patients are missing meals and eating snacks as the network addresses a food shortage, the Morning Call reports.
The Pittston Area Schools in Luzerne County will start the school year with remote learning, the Citizens-Voice reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:


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Sunset tonight from the South Side of #Pittsburgh.

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WHYY-FM talks to Post Office patrons in Philadelphia about the furor surrounding the agency.
The State College school board has voted against switching to remote learningWPSU-FM reports. looks at states who aren’t waiting on Washington, and are instead creating worker safety rules of their own.
Roll Call runs down the opposition to Joe Biden’s health care plan from progressives and health care industry executives alike.

What Goes On.
9:30 a.m., 140 MC:
 House Transportation Committee
1 p.m., Senate Chamber: House and Senate Education committees meet.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a classic from Saint Etienne, it’s ‘You’re In A Bad Way.’ They’ve always been a band that feels like summer.

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
blanked Montreal 2-0 on Tuesday night. The second straight shutout of the Eastern Conference series has brought the Habs to the brink of elimination.

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.