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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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Trump on Trial: A Guide to the January 6 Hearings and the Question of Criminality

June 6, 2022

President Joe Biden legitimately won a fair and secure 2020 presidential election--and Donald Trump lost. This historical fact has been uncontroverted by any evidence since at least November 7, 2020, when major news outlets projected Biden's victory. But Trump never conceded. Instead, both before and after Election Day, he tried to delegitimize the election results by disseminating a series of far-fetched and evidence-free claims of fraud. Meanwhile, with a ring of close confidants, Trump conceived and implemented unprecedented schemes to--in his own words--"overturn" the election outcome. Among the results of this "Big Lie" campaign were the terrible events of January 6, 2021--an inflection point in what we now understand was nothing less than an attempted coup.With Congress undertaking landmark hearings on all of that, this report is a comprehensive guide to the proceedings. It covers the Committee's work to date, the key players in the attempt to overturn the election, the known facts regarding their conduct that are expected to be covered at the hearings, and the criminal law applicable to their actions. The report is intended to help readers evaluate all those proceedings going forward.

Government

Democracy Playbook 2021: 10 Commitments for Advancing Democracy

December 6, 2021

This special edition of our Democracy Playbook updates our 2019 compendium of evidence-based democracy best practices with the research and developments of the eventful past two years. Most importantly, we here extract from that rich body of knowledge ten proposed pro-democracy commitments for consideration by participants in the upcoming first Summit for Democracy on December 9–10, 2021, and the subsequent year of action. We break down each of the ten commitments into a series of specific and measurable steps that all stakeholders can undertake to renew and strengthen democracy, fight democratic backsliding, and usher in an era of improved governance. After the Summit, we will update the Playbook again with the best of the learnings from that gathering for use as we build towards the 2022 follow-up event a year from now.

Government

Filibuster Reform is Coming—Here’s How: Seven ideas for change

September 13, 2021

In the America of 2021, a seemingly unstoppable force has met an apparently immovable object. Across the nation, state officials are acting with brazen impunity in curtailing voting rights. At best nakedly partisan, and at worst openly racist, legislators are proposing and passing, and some governors are signing, statutes that will strip the ballot from millions, seize the power to overturn election outcomes those partisans don't like, and potentially tilt the political playing field for decades to come. No wonder President Biden has declared it the "most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War." Federal legislation could prevent this by establishing reasonable best practices for voter registration and early voting, and by barring the worst of the provisions. But, that is where the immovable object comes in. Despite majorities in both houses of Congress that have expressed support for voting rights legislation, the Senate filibuster stands in the way.In this paper we assess a range of possible filibuster modifications. We believe the Senate will also consider these options as the pressure to do something to meet the crisis ratchets up. The history of the filibuster is the history of such changes, and so we begin with a survey of that history in Part I. In Part II, we catalog today's principal proposals for modification, enumerating their pros and cons. We include remedies such as reducing the number of senators needed to open debate in the face of a filibuster; obligating the objectors to be present with one of their number speaking at all times during a filibuster; and shifting the burden to them to muster the requisite number of votes required to maintain the filibuster whenever challenged, instead of requiring the 60 who wish to proceed to so vote.