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Weeks Before November Election, Some Voting Lawsuits Remain In Court

Matt Rourke
A series of lawsuits in the Pennsylvania courts will provide answers to questions about the voting process for the November election.


On today's program: The election is fast approaching, but lawsuits surrounding this fall’s vote are still tied up in court; college students face uncertainty and confusion about how to vote during the pandemic; and half of Pennsylvania schools do not employ any teachers of color. 

Voting lawsuits leave some with questions around this fall’s election process
(00:00 — 5:21)

The election is less than seven weeks away, and voters and elections officials still have several unanswered questions—many surrounding vote by mail. Pennsylvania courts will likely provide those answers, eventually.

WITF reporterEmily Previti has been covering the many lawsuits surrounding the election process this fall. She reportsone lawsuit, filed in federal court by the League of Women Voters and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh about signatures on mail-in ballots, was dropped after the state sent a directive to county elections officials “Not to reject the ballot until there’s been ample time and effort letting the voter know.”

But another lawsuit concerning the drop off locations of mail-in ballots and deadlines to receive them is awaiting a decision from the state Supreme Court.

“The President’s reelection campaign’s lawsuit seeks to ban drop boxes, and require that the main county election office that’s the only drop off point aside from perhaps a county courthouse,” says Previti. State Democrats are seeking “to clarify that counties can decide this for themselves, which some of them are doing right now anyway.”

For some students,  how they’ll vote during the pandemic remains uncertain
(5:25 — 12:46)

Hundreds of thousands of students flock to colleges across Pennsylvania for the fall semester, and in election years, some of those students register to vote with their campus addresses. But in a pandemic—when the dorms could close and classes go online at the drop of a hat—that could mean trouble for those relying on a mail-in ballot or polling places close to their dorms.


“Any time I really interact with a student about it, they’re just kind of asking me what they should be doing, what’s going on, and it doesn’t seem like anybody sort of has a concrete knowledge about what they need to be doing in preparation for the election,” says Sarah Harmon, a University of Pittsburgh student fellow with theCampus Vote Project.

To ensure students get their ballot and vote on time, “We encourage students to register for that mail-in ballot as soon as they possibly can,” says Chuck Black, the Pennsylvania Coordinator for the Campus Vote Project.

The deadline to register to vote in Allegheny County is October 19, 2002, and the deadline to request a mail-in ballot is before 5 p.m. on October 27, 2020.

The Campus Vote Project at the University of Pittsburgh is using TurboVoteto encourage students to check their registration or register to vote. 

Half of PA schools still don’t have a single teacher of color
(12:48 — 18:03)

It’s not possible to find a teacher of color in half of all schools in Pennsylvania, that’s according to a new analysis of state data by Keystone Crossroads. The gap between the amount of students of color and teachers of color in the state has actually widened in the past seven years.


Sojourner Ahébée reports on the Black educators who have made it into the profession andhow they are pushing for change

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.


Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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