When judges in North Carolina last week struck down the state's legislative maps, a potential watershed in the fight against partisan gerrymandering, the moment felt particularly familiar to moviemaker Bob Millman.
That's because he and his daughter Rachel Millman spent two years documenting a similar and also successful fight against the overtly political contours of a congressional map for Pennsylvania.
Their resulting film, "Line in the Street," debuted last year and is getting additional attention now the North Carolina map has joined the Pennsylvania map in the trash — and both for the same reasons.
Pennsylvanians who need absentee ballots will now be able to apply online, starting with this year's municipal elections. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced the new system on Monday, a week before the applications open, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Pennsylvania's deadlines to apply for and return absentee ballots are three days apart, and in previous elections, voters have failed to make the turnaround, leaving thousands of ballots uncounted — more than just about every other state. Wolf said he hopes the change "will make the process faster and more accessible for thousands of voters."
In one of the oddest recent pairings of election reform efforts, straight-ticket voting will still be permitted in Pennsylvania but as a consequence the state's voting machines may not be modernized before the next election.
The twinned developments, the result of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's veto last week of a single bill, could have important consequences for the 2020 presidential race, when Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes will be one of the biggest prizes on the roster of tossup states.
The measure, approved by the Republican-controlled legislature on party lines, would have ended the ability of voters to make a single selection endorsing all of one political party's candidates on the ballot. The same legislation would have provided $90 million in state funds to help counties buy new paper-based and easily auditable voting equipment that is becoming the national standard.