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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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

Representation for Some: The Discriminatory Nature of Limiting Representation to Adult Citizens

July 29, 2021

Every 10 years, political districts at all levels of government are redrawn to make sure they are equal in population as required by the U.S. Constitution.1 Currently every state apportions representatives and draws congressional and state legislative districts on the basis of a state's total population.2 That is, when districts are drawn, all people living in the state, including children and noncitizens, are counted for the purposes of representation.However, some Republican political operatives and elected officials aim to unsettle this long-standing prac[1]tice by excluding children and noncitizens from the popu[1]lation figures used to draw state legislative districts.3 Rather than count everyone, states would draw districts based only on the adult citizen population.Making such a break with current practice and prece[1]dent would be of dubious legality and would leave states vulnerable to a host of legal challenges. It also would have major practical implications for redistricting. This study looks at what such a change would mean for representa[1]tion and the allocation of political power in the United States by focusing on its impact three demographically distinct states: Texas, Georgia, and Missouri.

Government

The Redistricting Landscape, 2021–22

February 11, 2021

This report looks at the upcoming redistricting cycle through the lens of four factors that will influence outcomes in each state: who controls map drawing; changes in the legal rules governing redistricting over the last decade; pressures from population and demographic shifts over the same period; and the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the 2020 Census. In each state, the confluence of these factors will determine the risk of manipulated maps or whether, conversely, the redistrict[1]ing process will produce maps that reflect what voters want, respond to shifts in public opinion, and protect the rights of communities of color.

Government

American Democracy in Crisis: The Challenges of Voter Knowledge, Participation, and Polarization

July 17, 2018

"American Democracy in Crisis: The Challenges of Voter Knowledge, Participation, and Polarization"— the first of a series of surveys from PRRI/The Atlantic examining challenges to democratic institutions and practices— finds an alarming number of Americans do not know what factors qualify people for or disqualify people from voting. The survey also finds large divides by political party, race, and ethnicity regarding the biggest problems facing the U.S. electoral system. At the same time, there is strong, bipartisan support for a range of policies that increase access to the ballot.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation

Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

February 1, 2017

President Trump recently claimed millions voted illegally in the 2016 election, and called for a "major investigation" into fraud in our election system. His remarks come after years of battles in the states over voting laws that make it harder for many citizens to participate in our elections. Yet the clamor over voter suppression should not obscure a fundamental shared truth: American elections should be secure and free of misconduct. This paper outlines a six-part agenda to target fraud risks as they actually exist -- without unduly disenfranchising eligible citizens.

Campaigns and Elections

After Citizens United: The Story in the States

October 9, 2014

Since 2010, outside spending in state elections has increased dramatically, according a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, a MacArthur grantee. In campaigns for state and local office, the difference between outside spending and that of candidates and campaigns is often even more porous than in federal elections. "After Citizens United: The Story in the States" investigates the prevention of non-candidate spending abuses in 15 states, revealing a pervasive set of poorly designed laws with a few states promoting tougher enforcement.

Campaigns and Elections

Election Day Long Lines: Resource Allocation

September 17, 2014

Precincts with fewer poll workers and voting machines and more minorities experienced longer voting lines in the 2012 presidential election, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, a MacArthur grantee. The study, Election Day Long Lines: Resource Allocation, provides an in-depth look at the relationships between resource distribution, race, and the length of voting lines in Florida, Maryland, and South Carolina. The 10 South Carolina precincts with the longest wait times had, on average, 64 percent registered black voters, compared to 27 percent across the state. The 10 Maryland precincts with the fewest voting machines per voter had, on average, 19 percent Latino voting age citizens, compared to 7 percent across the state. The study also found many precincts did not comply with state requirements for allocating voting resources.

Campaigns and Elections

Public Financing of Elections After Citizens United and Arizona Free Enterprise

July 7, 2011

Based on political contribution records from six Midwestern states, compares the projected impact of providing small-donor public matching funds to that of lowering contribution limits on election participation by a diverse mix of donors.

Campaigns and Elections