Penna. Mail In Ballot Website Open: AP PA Headlines, Features

AP PA Headlines 2/12/20

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania is launching the website where voters for the first time can request the newly legalized mail-in ballots ahead of the state’s April 28 primary election, officials said Tuesday.  The mail-in ballots, part of an election reform law signed in October by Gov. Tom Wolf, now allow all voters to vote by mail for any reason. The website was live as of Tuesday.

Online applicants must supply a driver’s license number or an identification card number issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, as well as their name, address, phone number and email address.  Prospective voters can also use the site to apply for an absentee ballot, and they will be asked questions to determine whether they qualify for one. Those questions include whether they will be traveling on the election day or whether they are ill or have a physical disability that prevents them from voting in person.

The deadline for county election offices to receive applications is 5 p.m. April 21. The deadline for county election offices to receive a mail-in or absentee ballot in the coming primary election is when polls close, or 8 p.m. April 28.  Voters can also download and print the application and mail it to their county election office, or apply in person.

Wolf pushed for the new mail-in ballots as a way to get more people to vote. However, some county election offices are warning that they do not have enough staff to count all of the mail-in ballots on election nights.  Wolf’s top election official, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, has said her agency is working with county election officials and studying counting procedures used in the about 30 other states that allow votes by mail.

Ballots may not be finalized until several weeks before the April 28 primary election, and will be mailed out after that, officials say.  The deadline for candidates for office to file petitions to get on the ballot is Tuesday.  Feb. 25 is the deadline to file a court challenge to a candidate’s petitions and March 5 is the deadline for a candidate to withdraw their name from the ballot, although court challenges may drag on past that date.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Incidents of white supremacist propaganda distributed across the nation jumped by more than 120% between 2018 and last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, making 2019 the second straight year that the circulation of propaganda material has more than doubled.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reported 2,713 cases of circulated propaganda by white supremacist groups, including fliers, posters and banners, compared with 1,214 cases in 2018. Printed propaganda distributed by white supremacist organizations includes material that directly spreads messages of discrimination against Jews, LGBTQ people and other minority communities — but also items with their prejudice obscured by a focus on gauzier pro-America imagery.

The sharp rise in cases of white supremacist propaganda distribution last year follows a jump of more than 180% between 2017, the first year that the Anti-Defamation League tracked material distribution, and 2018. While 2019 saw cases of propaganda circulated on college campuses nearly double, encompassing 433 separate campuses in all but seven states, researchers who compiled the data found that 90% of campuses only saw one or two rounds of distribution.

Oren Segal, director of the League’s Center on Extremism, pointed to the prominence of more subtly biased rhetoric in some of the white supremacist material, emphasizing “patriotism,” as a sign that the groups are attempting “to make their hate more palatable for a 2020 audience.”

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A terrorism threat — or a joke? Lawmakers in Michigan and a gun rights group are calling for changes in the state’s terrorism law after a college student was charged for posting an image of his rifle on Snapchat. The student, Lucas Gerhard, faces a charge of making a terrorist threat after he showed off an image of his new AR-15 to friends — saying his rifle “outta make the snowflakes melt.” The matter was reported to authorities and an arrest was made. If convicted, Gerhard could get up to 20 years in prison. But opponents of the case say they want to state laws to redefine what it means to make a terrorist threat. One lawmaker claims the student’s post was a harmless joke.

NEW HAMPSHIRE  (AP) – New Hampshire Democrats have given Bernie Sanders a win, but also a warning. Unquestioned is Sanders’ durability, based on his 2016 campaign and the first two contests this year. What remains unanswered is how moderates will now come at him and whether Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be able to compete credibly for the progressive wing. Her disappointing fourth-place showing gives supporters little confidence. But Sanders’ liabilities are also clear, at least among a large segment of voters in the party who are wary of the 78-year-old self-identified democratic socialist, and how that label could be demonized by President Donald Trump.

NEW YORK (AP) – Michael Bloomberg is under fire for resurfaced comments in which the Democratic presidential candidate he says the way to bring down murder rates is to “put a lot of cops” in minority neighborhoods because that’s where “all the crime is.” Bloomberg made the comments at a 2015 appearance at the Aspen Institute, as part of an overall defense of his support for the controversial “stop and frisk” policing tactic that has been found to disproportionately affect minorities. On Tuesday, after reports of the audio resurfaced, Bloomberg issued a statement saying his 2015 remarks “do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity.”

NEW YORK (AP) – The week President Donald Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial was Fox News Channel’s best in the ratings since the weeks he was elected and inaugurated. Besides the acquittal, Trump had a “State of the Union” address well received by his fans, many of them also fans of Fox News. It was Fox’s fifth highest-rated week in prime-time in the nation’s history, and the best since Trump was elected in November 2016. Measuring the full day, it was Fox’s best week since Trump was sworn into office in January 2017. Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham also had their best ratings weeks ever.

CHICAGO (AP) — Around this time last year, we were first hearing about “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s claim that he was the victim of a racist and anti-gay attack in Chicago. Eventually, police determined it to be a hoax — and Smollett was charged with making a false report. Now, the case is back in the news again — as a special prosecutor has indicted Smollett a second time on charges of lying to police about the incident. The indictment comes from a special prosecutor appointed after Cook County prosecutors dropped the charges last March. Smollett is due at an arraignment on the new charges next month.

NEW YORK (AP) — It used to be that the Oscars were second only to the Super Bowl when it came to drawing a TV audience. But those days are gone, leaving the movie academy to search for ways to reverse the trend.

Some blame declining viewership on a lack of diversity. Others believe the Academy is out of touch with today’s moviegoers, who are more attracted to action flicks, comedies and superhero films than to period pieces like the ones that tend to dominate the Oscars. Some point to the recent trend for the Oscars to skip having a host. This is the second straight year where there was no “ringleader” for the show.

It’s not just the Oscars; the  Grammys, and Golden Globes have seen their audiences wither. Some of the blame for that may be the way Americans watch TV these days. With so many people streaming, there are fewer willing to gather in front of the flat screen for a specific live show. And with so many highlights available online, people may decide to watch excerpts, rather than invest hours on watching an awards show live.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Target admits a onesie it carried in some stores misidentified the mascot for the largest university in its home state. The Minneapolis-based retail giant apologized to Minnesota Gophers fans for carrying a maroon oneside with the words “Minnesota Badgers,” the nickname of Big Ten rival Wisconsin. The fan website tweeted a photo from a woman who noticed the onesides while shopping Sunday at a Target in Minneapolis. Target said “Color us red” and added, “As a Minnesota-based company, we know we are home to the Gophers.”

NEW YORK (AP) — Primped and poised, Siba the standard poodle owned the ring.  Even with the crowd at Madison Square Garden chanting for a popular golden retriever, the statuesque Siba strutted off with best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club last night.

Adorned with black puffs and pompoms, the 3-year-old Siba was the absolute picture of what many see as the epitome of a show dog.  “She’s beautiful and has that something,” handler Chrystal Murray-Clas said.  Bourbon the whippet finished second. Daniel the golden retriever was clearly the crowd favorite; a golden has never won at Westminster..

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