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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Dismantling Racism and Militarism in U.S. Foreign Policy

September 17, 2021

The current U.S. national security paradigm robs us of economic resources, corrupts our political system,endangers our lives, and offends our most fundamental moral values.It perpetuates a system that discriminates against, disempowers, disrespects, dehumanizes, and brutalizes Black and brown people and other communities of color. It is an extension of systemic white supremacy at home that relies upon the threat and use of force abroad.Continuing the U.S. quest for global military domination harms not only the people of other countries and the earth we share, but the vast majority of Americans. The Racism-Militarism Paradigm, moreover, harms all of our social, political, and economic institutions, including our democratic institutions, thus weakening our entire society.To peacefully and democratically dismantle this paradigm, we must offer a compelling alternative vision of the U.S. role in the world.

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

Which Women Can Run?: The Fundraising Gap in the 2020 Elections’ Competitive Primaries

June 9, 2021

Women ran, donated and voted in record numbers during the 2020 elections, despite a global pandemic and the ensuing recession that has fallen on overt gender and racial lines. Still, intersectional racial and gender fundraising gaps persisted when women, particularly women of color, ran in 2020 primary and general elections. Campaign finance remains a barrier of entry for many demographic groups of women, especially in primary elections. OpenSecrets' new gender and race report, Which Women Can Run? The Fundraising Gap in the 2020 Elections' Competitive Primaries, examines the variables that create barriers early on for women, especially women of color, and the variables that lead these candidates toward successful campaigns. Our goal is to address and document how gender and race impact primaries.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation

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

Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century

June 12, 2020

"Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century" is the work of the US national and bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, convened by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. It presents 31 recommendations - across political institutions, political culture, and civil society - which are the product of two years of work and nearly 50 listening sessions with Americans around the country, which sought to understand how American citizens could obtain the values, knowledge, and skills to become better citizens. Collectively, the recommendations lay the foundation for an essential reinvention of the American democracy supported by the increasement of citizens' capacity to engage in their communities.

Government

Restoring Voter Choice: How Citizen-Led Redistricting Can End the Manipulation of Our Elections

October 26, 2016

This report examines the 2016 primary and general elections for Congress and state legislatures. It concludes that voters in a shocking number of campaigns have been left without choices at the polls this year. In states where legislators drew maps, voters have fewer choices than in states where maps were drawn by individuals with no personal stake in the outcome. And when voters have real choices on Election Day, our democracy is strengthened because citizens can hold elected officials accountable.

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

Protecting Minority Voters: Our Work is Not Done

August 13, 2014

African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American voters are more likely to face discrimination in this year's elections than at any point in recent decades, according to a report released by the National Commission on Voting Rights, a MacArthur-supported initiative of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Citing more than 300 successful voting rights lawsuits, the report shows where and how minority voters continue to be harmed by racial discrimination in voting, and asserts that as a result of the weakening of the Voting Rights Act, states formerly protected by the Act demonstrate the highest levels of discrimination.

Campaigns and Elections

Who Pays for Judicial Races?

October 25, 2013

"In recent years, as the cost of judicial campaigns has soared, the boundaries that keep money and political pressure from interfering with the rule of law have become increasingly blurred", according to The New Politics of Judicial Elections, a MacArthur-supported report by Justice at Stake, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The report finds increased politicization and escalating spending in state judicial campaigns, as well as the growing role of special interest money. During the 2011-12 election cycle, many judicial races "seemed alarmingly indistinguishable from ordinary political campaigns" featuring everything from Super PACs and mudslinging attack ads to millions of dollars of candidate fundraising and independent spending.

Government

Toward Common Ends: The Foundation Sector and the Federal Government

March 16, 2011

The Partnership for Public Service, Inc. has published a report entitled Toward Common Ends: The Foundation Sector and the Federal Government. It addresses the issue of the philanthropic community's role in ensuring the government operates effectively, and was first examined at a Pocantico conference in October 2009. The forum, Achieving Public Good: Opportunities for Collaboration between Government and Philanthropy, was organized by the Partnership for Public Service, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Government