By Charlie Deitch
Pittsburgh Current Editor
If you pay attention to various news reports lately, it might seem like voting in the upcoming General Election is going to be confusing.
Last week, Donald Trump started yapping about ballots supporting him for president being tossed in the trash at a Luzerne County Election office. He used as a rallying point to push his false narrative that voting in Pennsylvania, and other states, this year will be rife with corruption. The ballots ended up discarded because they weren’t contained in a mandatory “secrecy envelope,” a task that must be completed for a vote to be valid, the Pa. Supreme Court ruled.
So in an effort to educate voters, Allegheny County Councilor Bethany Hallam wanted to draw attention to the ballot issue. So, she took her shirt off. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” she tweeted in announcing a new educational campaign.
The campaign features several Western Pa. elected officials topless with ballots and/or secrecy envelopes covering their breasts. Hallam says she wanted to do something that would capture attention.
I got the idea after the Pa. Supreme Court Ruling saying that mail-in ballots submitted without secrecy envelopes would not be counted,” she says. “The media was using the term ‘naked ballot,” so I reached out to some friends and was like, ‘Hey, I have this wild idea and everyone laughed..'”
So far the campaign is doing exactly what it is supposed to. Since the launch last week, the story has been picked up by media outlets locally and nationally on news sites like People.com and The Guardian.
Battling voter disinformation is a tall task in the upcoming election, but so is keeping voters up to date on all the election-law changes. That has led to the formation of Keystonevote.com, a non-partisan voter resource ” dedicated to informing voters of the most up-to-date options and processes for voting in Pennsylvania.” The group behind the site consists of Hallam, election attorney Chuck Pascal; attorney and system design and improvement specialist, Paul O’Neill, Jr; political consultant, Erin McClelland; and system design and improvement specialist, Geoff Webster. Partners in the project include 1Hood, B-Pep, Pump, and the Voter Empowerment Education & Enrichment Movement.
“There are a number of lawsuits challenging multiple election processes, from drop-box utilization to mail-in-voting procedures and even voter signature validation. As an Election Board member, I am charged with updating the administration of our election process and informing the voters of those updates,” stated Hallam. “That’s exactly what this site does.”