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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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Field in Focus: The State of Pro-Democracy Institutional Philanthropy

January 22, 2024

Philanthropic support for promoting a healthy democracy has grown in recent years, marking a period of transformation for the field. Since 2016, an influx of funding, actors, and philanthropic infrastructure has amplified the impact of pro-democracy efforts while infusing the movement with needed dynamism.At the same time, from a funder perspective these developments mean that today's ecosystem is increasingly complex, confusing, and difficult to navigate. Sustaining the benefits of this transformation while avoiding the pitfalls of rapid growth requires a full understanding of funder capacities and needs.Drawing insights from interviews and surveys conducted with 70 institutional funders, this report sheds new light on the state and direction of the democracy funding landscape. It describes:1. Field Magnitude and Growth — estimates of the size, scope, and directionality of democracy-related philanthropic funding.2. Field Focal Areas — insights on major focal areas for funding today, how that has changed over time, and where additional funding may be needed in the future.3. New Actors and Infrastructure — lessons on the experiences of newer funders and the evolving field of funding intermediaries.4. Looking Ahead — outstanding questions for future research and opportunities to strengthen the funding field. 

8 Ways To Protect American Democracy: Safeguarding Elections in 2024 and Beyond

January 4, 2024

This report provides a roadmap to help heal and strengthen American democracy. It explains some of the most pressing challenges that the 2024 U.S. elections will bring and how states, election officials, and the public must not only counter these challenges but also improve election safety, accessibility, and security. The report also looks beyond the horizon of the next election to the long-term challenges that lay at the very root of the crisis facing free and fair elections.

Fusion Voting and a Revitalized Role for Minor Parties in Presidential Elections

December 14, 2023

The run-up to the 2024 presidential election is highlighting the deep dissatisfaction throughout the electorate with our two-party system, as well as the difficulty in sustaining a broad electoral coalition to defeat anti-democratic extremism. Voters are expressing an overwhelming dislike of both major parties and growing interest in more electoral choices. Yet under our existing electoral rules, the odds of an independent or minor party candidate winning the presidency are extremely low. A common concern raised is that candidacies by the progressives Cornel West and Jill Stein and centrist political organization No Labels would splinter the pro-democracy vote in 2024, giving an electoral advantage to an authoritarian candidate like Donald Trump. Another worry is the risk of a constitutional crisis if an upstart campaign pulls off an upset in one or two states and prevents any candidate from securing a majority in the Electoral College, thereby leaving the selection of the president and vice president to Congress.Our success in defending U.S. democracy will turn, in part, on our ability to make our political system more responsive to and representative of our diverse electorate and to facilitate cross-ideological majority electoral coalitions in defense of democracy and the rule of law. An electoral practice that once allowed minor parties throughout the country to exert real influence in politics — fusion voting — could help advance these goals. By empowering factions with differing views on policy but a shared commitment to liberal democracy to unify in support of a single candidate, fusion can serve as a key tool for defeating authoritarian threats at the ballot box. The following sections define fusion voting, describe its practical effects, and briefly summarize its long history in U.S. elections. We conclude by discussing the particular value of fusion voting in modern presidential elections, especially for voters in the political center concerned about extremism and hyper-partisanship.

Threats From Political Minority Rule in Wisconsin and North Carolina

December 7, 2023

The United States has been on a long arc toward achieving a multiracial democracy that can effectively represent all Americans, including long-marginalized communities. Yet opponents of a more pluralistic democracy are erecting barriers at the federal and state levels designed to lock in political minority rule and slow the nation's progress. At the state level, this aggressive countermajoritarian movement can be seen most starkly in Wisconsin and North Carolina. Despite the fact these two states are divided almost 50-50 politically, their Republican-controlled legislatures are taking unprecedented steps to draw extreme partisan legislative maps to lock in political power, limit long-held authorities of governors, pass voter suppression and election sabotage laws, and steer state supreme courts toward preferred results.Breaking political norms to retrench political power is deeply unhealthy for the republic. However, structural reforms and other mechanisms can blunt these minority rule measures. These include banning partisan gerrymandering, establishing an affirmative legal right to vote, enacting nationwide federal standards that expand access to the ballot and thwart partisan election subversion, passing statewide ballot initiatives where that option exists, and creating a nonpartisan movement to help counter anti-democracy power grabs.

Protecting Democracy Online in 2024 and Beyond

September 14, 2023

In 2024, more than 2 billion voters across 50 countries—including in the United States, the European Union, and India—will head to the polls in a record-breaking number of elections around the world. Nearly a decade after social media was weaponized to influence election outcomes and with the technological advancements of today, such as generative artificial intelligence, poised to worsen or cause new problems, it is more prudent than ever that technology platforms and governments do everything in their power to safeguard elections and uphold democratic values online. The reality of today's technology and social media landscape paints a stark picture of platforms underprepared for the year ahead against a backdrop of unforeseen, novel challenges alongside known threats. Meanwhile, the prominent parent companies of many major social media platforms, known colloquially as Big Tech, have retreated from the election protection measures put in place in 2020 and initiated layoffs that have affected trust and safety teams across the industry, leaving them less prepared for a year of back-to-back and high-profile elections than perhaps ever before.The Center for American Progress has previously published reports identifying major threats to digital democracy and recommending steps that social media companies should take to mitigate them—most recently in 2022, with "Social Media and the 2022 Midterm Elections: Anticipating Online Threats to Democratic Legitimacy." And earlier, in 2020, the report "Results Not Found: Addressing Social Media's Threat to Democratic Legitimacy and Public Safety After Election Day" anticipated post-election delegitimization and real-world violence, suggesting product approaches to reduce harm.This new report specifically anticipates risks to and from the major social media platforms in the 2024 elections, continuing CAP's work to promote election integrity online and ensure free and fair elections globally. The report's recommendations incorporate learnings from past elections and introduce new ideas to encourage technology platforms to safeguard democratic processes and mitigate election threats. In a world without standardized global social media regulation, ensuring elections are safe, accessible, and protected online and offline will require key actions to be taken ahead of any votes being cast—both in 2024 and beyond.

Open Society Barometer: Can Democracy Deliver?

September 11, 2023

Launched in September 2023, the Open Society Barometer serves as a global reality check, painting a picture of the attitudes, concerns, and hopes of people across 30 countries—making it one of the largest studies of global public opinion on human rights and democracy ever conducted.The 2023 Barometer is based on representative polling in 30 countries, chosen to reflect geographic, economic, and political diversity. These countries have a combined population of over 5.5 billion people.

Dubious Democracy 2022

January 20, 2023

FairVote's 2022 Dubious Democracy report highlights the overwhelming lack of competition in U.S. House of Representatives elections. We ranked all 50 states on "Voter Voice" based on their performance on five sub-measures:margin of victoryamount of landslide victoriesvoter turnoutvoter consensus for winning candidatespartisan skewThis congressional cycle stands out because of a particularly high number of uncontested seats and a particularly low number of competitive seats. Additionally, the 118th U.S. House has been elected by the smallest share of the population since 2014.

Government

Interactive Map of School Librarian Requirements Across the United States

January 9, 2023

This application was built through the collaboration of San Jose State University School of Information and The EveryLibrary Institute and produced by the High Country Council of Governments. The information provided on this web app enables researchers to explore data variables pertaining to school librarian credentialing requirements and student performance indicators throughout the United States of America.Ways this data can be used:For MLIS students to learn about school librarian requirements by state.To cross-compare national school librarian requirements.To view national trends for school librarian requirementsRaw data downloads for further analysis.

Midterms 2022: The Changing Demographics of the Electorate

October 3, 2022

2016 may not feel like a significant time ago, but the 2020 elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine have all transformed the tenor and dynamics of American politics. Beyond political developments, the demographics of the electorate have continued to evolve significantly over this time.Data from the 2020 Census already demonstrated how the U.S. population has continued to diversify ethnically and racially. This demographic change is now being seen in the voting-eligible population, as younger and more diverse generations age into voting eligibility and as more immigrants take the important step of gaining U.S. citizenship and the right to vote.With the 2022 midterm elections on the horizon, this map uses data from the Current Population Survey to show which states' electorates are changing most rapidly. In swing states where close races are expected to take place, the extent to which changing electorates can be activated by each campaign may ultimately help determine who wins and loses come November.

Civic Participation

Best Practices and Standards for Election Audits

June 15, 2022

In-depth financial and accounting audits are a standard practice (and legal requirement) for all publicly traded companies and most privately held businesses, for nonprofits from schools to churches to other charities, and for financial institutions themselves. Audits are a way of life in America for entities and enterprises, large and small.Yet audits of election agencies and election procedures and systems are almost nonexistent in our public elections except for very limited audits in limited instances. The very concept of comprehensive election audits has been met with criticism and unjustified opposition by some election officials—and even the current U.S. Department of Justice. For the same reasons that auditing is a ubiquitous requirement in the business world at large, so should audits be a customary requirement in the election world.

Impact 2020: the Million Muslim Votes Campaign Voter Turnout Report

April 27, 2022

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 presidential election set a record for voter turnout nationwide, significantly changed how Americans participate in voting, and resulted in 66.8% of eligible voters casting a ballot—7 percentage points over 2016. For years the Muslim American community has focused on improving and building institutional capacity to change the way Muslim Americans engaged in politics to ensure that the Muslim American narrative is at the core of the social fabric of this nation. In 2020, Emgage launched and implemented the largest Muslim mobilization program in history, the Million Muslim Votes campaign. Alongside statewide and national Muslim American civic groups, we concentrated our efforts on 12 states that made up a total of 1.5 million registered Muslim American voters. Our organizing efforts included making 1.8 million calls, sending over 3.6 million text messages and over 400,000 mailers, knocking on over 20,000 doors, holding over 50 organizing training sessions, and activating 672 volunteers nationwide.This effort contributed to 1,086,087 million (71%) registered Muslim voters casting a ballot, two percentage points over the 2016 turnout. Of the 1.5 million registered Muslim voters in 2020, 52% (779,793 million) voted early or via absentee ballots.This report takes an in-depth look at three core elements:the growth of the Muslim American electorate in the 12 states in which we organized;Muslim American voter turnout for 2016 and 2020, with a special focus on Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Virginia, and Illinois;the pivotal organizing shifts necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Civic Participation

Voting Laws Roundup: February 2022

February 9, 2022

As the 2022 state legislative sessions begin, lawmakers have already introduced more new restrictive voting legislation than at this time last year. They have also continued to introduce bills designed to undermine the electoral process.

Campaigns and Elections