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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Judicial Ballot Initiative / Pennsylvania's Trust in Government

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, Smart Talk | Nov 7, 2016 3:00 AM


What to look for on Smart Talk - Monday, November 7, 2016:

                A question will appear on Tuesday's election ballot asking Pennsylvanians if state judges should be forced to retire at the age of 75.  The question hasn't raised as many eyebrows as the wording on the ballot.  Pennsylvania judges are required to retire at 70, but the ballot question makes it appear as though there is no current mandatory retirement age.

This vernacular has led to several attempts to change the ballot question, ultimately leading to a federal complaint placed by former state justices.  There are questions about the motivation behind this initiative as well as whether the question has been presented as intentionally misleading.  A recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed stated "The GOP-controlled Legislature's actions clearly were intended to boost the odds of passage -- and perhaps to influence the makeup of the Supreme Court."


Berwood Yost - Director, The Center of Opinion Research, Frankilin and Marshall College

Berwood Yost is the Director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College and he authored an op-ed last month in the Philadelphia Inquirer voicing his opposition to the wording of the ballot measure.  He feels the wording is surreptitiously deceptive and it undermines voters' confidence in the political process.

Yost joins Smart Talk to discuss why he believes the ballot's wording sets a dangerous precedent for Pennsylvania voters and how the issue should be rectified.

We'll also speak with three Penn State Harrisburg professors involved in a poll study into Pennsylvanians' attitudes towards government and the criminal justice system.  Despite the rhetoric and divisions exposed by this year's contentious election season, voters in the state have a reasonably positive opinion about governmental services and law enforcement.


Dr. Patria de Lancer Julnes - Director, School of Public Affairs, Penn State Harrisburg / Dr. Michele Tantardini - Assistant Professor of Public Administration, Penn State Harrisburg / Dr. Julliette Tolay - Assistant Professor of Political Science, School of Public Affairs, Penn State Harrisburg

We will be joined by Dr. Patria De Lancer Julnes, Dr. Michele Tantardini and  Dr. Juliette Tolay of Penn State Harrisburg's School of Public Affairs to discuss where Pennsylvanians stand on politics and what can be done to shore up confidence in government.


On Judicial Retirement Ballot Initiative:

Assuming the individual is mentally competent and there aren't issues about performance, which retirement age costs taxpayers the most?                 - Lisa & Adam

My biggest problem with this ballot question is not in the wording, but the fact it was asked during a primary election, excluding independent and unaffiliated voters. I don't think it is fair to exclude any voters for such questions.              - Tom in Carlisle


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