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

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

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

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

Democracy Counts 2020: Record-Breaking Turnout and Student Resiliency

October 28, 2021

This report contains findings from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE, pronounced n-solve), a landmark study of U.S. college and university student voting. Launched in 2013, NSLVE consists of a database of more than 10 million de-identified student records that have been combined with publicly available voting records for each of the 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, and now, 2020 elections. Participating institutions include two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities, including graduate programs. Campuses must opt in, and at the time of this report, roughly 1,200 colleges and universities from all 50 states and the District of Columbia participate. For this report, we examine 1,051 campuses representing approximately 9 million student voters.

Civic Participation

Michigan Redistricting Draft Map Analysis

October 11, 2021

Michigan has embarked on an historic redrawing of boundaries for its 13 U.S. House, 38 Senate and 110 House districts. Redistricting was entrusted this year to 13 members of the Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission (MICRC) randomly selected from a pool of qualified applicants.This report provides a quantitative analysis of the collaborative Draft Proposed maps, as those maps were collaboratively drawn by the MICRC and released on Oct. 11, 2021. For the collaborative maps, the Commission voted to release four congressional maps, three Michigan Senate maps, and three Michigan House maps. These Draft Proposed maps will be subject to a round of public hearings to be conducted around the state from Wednesday, Oct. 20 to Wednesday, Oct. 27.In this report, the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University analyzes these 10 collaborative Draft Proposed maps.

Civic Participation; Government

Ensuring more voters count in presidential primaries: Exploring the potential of ranked choice voting ballots

October 8, 2021

This report reviews an important aspect of the Democratic Presidential nomination process in 2020: the advantages of increasing early access to voting, and the unintended consequence it creates for some early voters losing the chance to cast an effective vote.This report lifts up the experience of state parties that avoided that problem by offering ranked choice voting (RCV) ballots. Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, and Wyoming successfully introduced RCV ballots for all voters, while Nevada used RCV ballots for early voting. This greatly increased the numbers of votes that counted toward candidates earning delegates. Implemented nationally, ranked choice voting ballots likely would have resulted in over four million more Democratic voters having a direct effect on the contest. The Democatic National Committee has an opportunity to support this innovation and ensure votes count in 2024 and beyond.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation

The Role of Electoral Engagement in Youth Social Movements - Study I of "Protests, Politics, and Power: Exploring the Connections Between Youth Voting and Youth Movements"

October 4, 2021

Youth activism and participation in social movements has been one of the defining features of civic life in the past several years: from the anti-gun violence protests after the Parkland school shooting in 2018, to the nationwide actions for racial justice following George Floyd's murder in 2020. Both of those were also election years in which young people achieved historic or near-historic levels of voter turnout. But what, exactly, was the relationship between young people's participation in the streets and at the ballot box?To answer that question, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) joined a team of researchers to produce Protests, Politics, and Power: Exploring the Connections Between Youth Voting and Youth Movements. This research encompasses two studies that tackled this question with different but complementary perspectives and approaches. The Role of Electoral Engagement in Youth Social Movements is a qualitative study based on interviews and supplemental surveys with young leaders and participants in social movements. The second study, Quantifying the Effects of Protests on Voter Registration and Turnout, uses quantitative methods to study changes in electoral participation in areas where protests took place.

Civic Participation