This collection on American democracy challenges and complements blog posts and opinion pieces that are typical staples of the 24/7 news cycle in the lead up to US elections. You'll find reports about election and campaign administration, voting access and participation, government performance and perceptions, the role of the media in civil society, and more.

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"VOTE!" by Paul Sableman licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Featured

Intergenerational Civic Learning: A Path Toward Revitalized Democracy

November 18, 2021

Generational divisions all too often mark political fault lines, but they can also catalyze mutual learning and democratic renewal. Civic intergenerationality is an approach to civic learning grounded in coming together across the life span to create a social and political reality that supports people of all ages. It operates under the assumption that all people are assets to our community, are capable of civic learning, and would benefit from it. By embracing the practice of civic intergenerationality, we can address America's ongoing civic crisis. We can create a community of lifelong, reciprocal learners that uplifts our youngest civic agents while leveraging the experiences and wisdom of older generations

Civic Participation
Featured

What We Know About Ranked-Choice Voting

November 10, 2021

As ranked-choice voting (RCV) gains momentum in American politics, a new body of research has emerged to examine the reform's effects on voters, candidates, campaigns, and policy. This report offers a systematic overview of the literature on RCV in the United States. Broadly, the research shows that RCV is an improvement over the more traditional single-vote plurality voting system, with clear benefits in some areas—especially campaign quality and descriptive representation—and more marginal or no apparent benefits in other areas. The research should also allay fears that RCV is too confusing or discriminatory: voters understand RCV, and learn to like it, too, particularly with experience.However, many promised benefits of RCV appear to be more modest than many had initially hoped and/or difficult to quantify based on limited usage thus far in the United States. It is possible that these benefits will take time to become apparent as candidates and voters learn and attitudes change. It is also possible that the adoption of RCV nationwide would be more transformative than city-by-city and even state-by-state adoption. But given the broader structural forces at play in our deteriorating national politics, stronger medicine may be needed.

Campaigns and Elections
Featured

As a Matter of Fact: The Harms Caused by Election Disinformation

October 28, 2021

The United States is at a critical juncture. More than 1 in 3 U.S. residents—and nearly 80% of Republicans—wrongly believe that President Joe Biden did not legitimately win the election, and a majority say they "do not have confidence that elections reflect the will of the people." Donald Trump's Big Lie is working, and we have to respond. Just as we came together last year, rising up to vote safely and securely in record numbers during a global pandemic, we must now rise up to stop election disinformation efforts in future elections. This report is a game plan for success.As online election disinformation has increased, Common Cause Education Fund's commitment to monitoring and stopping it has likewise increased. As part of our plan to combat election disinformation, Common Cause Education Fund has prepared this report to explain the problem of election disinformation in detail and propose commonsense public and corporate policy reforms to reduce the harmful impacts of election disinformation in future elections. The report's final section is a series of state, federal and corporate reforms to help stem the flow of election disinformation that is undermining Americans' faith in the nation's elections.

Civic Participation; Media
Featured

Waking the Sleeping Giant: Poor and Low-Income Voters in the 2020 Elections

October 15, 2021

The 2020 presidential elections saw the highest voter turnout in U.S. election history, including among poor and low-income voters (LIV) . Of the 168 million voters who cast a ballot in the general election, 58 million—or 35% of the voting electorate—were LIV. This cuts against common misperceptions that poor and low-income people are apathetic about politics or inconsequential to electoral outcomes.To tap into the potential impact of these voters in the 2020 elections, the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC:NCMR) launched a non-partisan voter outreach drive across 16 states. The drive targeted urban and rural areas and reached over 2.1 million voters, the vast majority of whom were eligible LIV. The drive had a statistically significant impact in drawing eligible LIV into the active voting electorate, showing that intentional efforts to engage these voters—around an agenda that includes living wages, health care, strong anti-poverty programs, voting rights and policies that fully address injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the war economy—can be effective across state borders and racial lines.

Civic Participation

The Future of Digital Spaces and Their Role in Democracy

November 22, 2021

This is the 13th"Future of the Internet" canvassing Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center have conducted together to gather expert views about important digital issues. In this report, the questions focused on the prospects for improvements in the tone and activities of the digital public sphere by 2035. This is a nonscientific canvassing based on a nonrandom sample; this broad array of opinions about where current trends may lead in the next decade represents only the points of view of the individuals who responded to the queries.Pew Research Center and Elon's Imagining the Internet Center built a database of experts to canvass from a wide range of fields, inviting professionals and policy people based in government bodies, nonprofits and foundations, technology businesses and think tanks, as well as interested academics and technology innovators. The predictions reported here came in response to a set of questions in an online canvassing conducted between June 29 and Aug. 2, 2021.In all, 862 technology innovators and developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists responded to at least one of the questions covered in this report. More on the methodology underlying this canvassing and the participants can be found in the section titled "About this canvassing of experts."

Civic Participation

Building the Relationships for Collaborative Governance: Case Studies from Across America

November 17, 2021

In recent years, a more collaborative form of democratic engagement has emerged, primarily at the local and state level, as well as internationally. Collaborative governance, or co-governance, refers to a broad range of models of civic engagement that allow people outside and inside government to work together in designing policy. This new form of engagement seeks to break down the boundaries between advocates and officials and is not only more democratic, but also more inclusive and open to those served by the government. How are co-governance relationships best developed, sustained, and supported? The clearest way to answer this question is not in theory, but from the learned experiences of co-governance, at the neighborhood, city, and state level. In this report, we highlight five of these cases in communities across the country where progress has been made to improve the quality of life and strengthen the bonds of community for all through the collaborative work of democracy.

Civic Participation; Government

Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology - 2021

November 9, 2021

Partisan polarization remains the dominant, seemingly unalterable condition of American politics. Republicans and Democrats agree on very little – and when they do, it often is in the shared belief that they have little in common.Yet the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats sometimes obscures the divisions and diversity of views that exist within both partisan coalitions – and the fact that many Americans do not fit easily into either one.Republicans are divided on some principles long associated with the GOP: an affinity for businesses and corporations, support for low taxes and opposition to abortion. Democrats face substantial internal differences as well – some that are long-standing, such as on the importance of religion in society, others more recent. For example, while Democrats widely share the goal of combating racial inequality in the United States, they differ on whether systemic change is required to achieve that goal.These intraparty disagreements present multiple challenges for both parties: They complicate the already difficult task of governing in a divided nation. In addition, to succeed politically, the parties must maintain the loyalty of highly politically engaged, more ideological voters, while also attracting support among less engaged voters – many of them younger – with weaker partisan ties.Pew Research Center's new political typology provides a road map to today's fractured political landscape. It segments the public into nine distinct groups, based on an analysis of their attitudes and values. The study is primarily based on a survey of 10,221 adults conducted July 8-18, 2021; it also draws from several additional interviews with these respondents conducted since January 2020.

Civic Participation

Secure MI Vote: Creating Insecurity for Community Polling Places

November 9, 2021

How a Republican ballot initiative could eliminate 20 percent of Michigan polling places by prohibiting the use of donated spaces: an analysis of religious spaces used as polling places in the 2020 election. This report includes an outline of how communities across the state could be affected and the challenges this would present to local clerks and voters, based on interviews with local clerks.

Campaigns and Elections

Bipartisan Principles for Election Audits

November 8, 2021

This report aims to outline what a secure, precise, trustworthy audit of an election should look like in every state. Recommendations in the report include that audits should take place before the results are certified, that election officials must maintain custody of the ballots during audits, and that audits should be open to the public for observation. Extralegal investigations in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin do not meet most of the unanimously endorsed recommendations put forward in the report.

Campaigns and Elections

2021 Veterans Civic Health Index – Defining Our Future Leaders: The Civic Health of Post- 9/11 Veterans

November 1, 2021

This report represents the fourth edition of this type of analysis on the veterans community- again showing that veterans outperform non-veterans in multiple forms of civic engagement including voting, donating, and volunteering.

Civic Participation

What People Around the World Like – And Dislike – About American Society and Politics

November 1, 2021

As Pew Research Center surveys have documented, the United States' global reputation has shifted dramatically over the past two decades, often improving or declining depending on who is in the White House and the foreign policies they pursue. At the same time, many other factors have continued to shape how people see the U.S., including its vast cultural reach, its economic model and its divisive politics. A survey of 17 advanced economies highlights the complexity of America's international image. People in other publics find much to admire about the U.S., but they see many problems as well. Americans, for their part, also see both strengths and weaknesses in their society.

Government

California Census 2020 Statewide Funders’ Initiative Final Evaluation Report

November 1, 2021

The 2020 census was among the most fraught in recent history, with threats to a fair and complete count posed by the global pandemic and the federal administration's attempt to limit the inclusion of immigrants. Fortunately, funders and other stakeholders built on the lessons of census 2010, and the California Census 2020 Statewide Funders Initiative coordinated investments with the state to maximize the number of Californians counted. This report documents learnings from the California Census 2020 Statewide Funders Initiative.

Civic Participation