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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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Local Lockout in Georgia: Why Underrepresentation in County-Level Governments Persists

November 28, 2023

All politics is local, but local institutions often evade national scrutiny. City and county governments make policy decisions that impact daily life and animate political identity: how to run just and effective police forces, how to maintain roads and deploy emergency services, and how to operate public schools that educate and enrich future generations. They have also become cultural flash points in social movements for racial equity and LGBTQ+ rights. Local elections offer critical opportunities for communities to address the issues that most directly affect them, participate in the political process, and cultivate political talent for higher office.Since 2010, rapidly growing communities of color have reshaped Georgia's demographic and political makeup, yet the state's county governing structures have been slow to reflect that change. Many factors contribute to these disparities, among them the electoral practices shaped by the Republican-dominated state legislature that create structural barriers to elected office. Compounding this problem are the legislature's unprecedented efforts to intervene in local redistricting precisely where communities of color are tipping political scales.This report draws on 2023 state voter file data to analyze the racial and gender identity of current members of Georgia's 159 county commissions and their respective school boards. People of color are dramatically underrepresented among Georgia's county government officials. They constitute nearly 50 percent of the state's population, yet as of February 2023, only 27 percent of county commission seats and 29 percent of county school board seats statewide were held by people of color. The average Georgia county has about half as many people of color on its county commission and school board as would be predicted given its population and school enrollment composition, respectively. Underrepresentation is more pronounced in these local offices than in state or federal ones. 

Still Not Free When They Come Home, a Community Report: How Wisconsin's Criminal Legal System Harms Democracy and the Black Community on Milwaukee's North Side

October 16, 2023

During the first half of 2023, Black Leaders Organizing Communities (BLOC), a Black-led community-based organization in Milwaukee, and the Center for Popular Democracy conducted a participatory action research project where six of BLOC's member leaders from the North Side of Milwaukee interviewed their family members, neighbors, and other residents of the community about how policing and incarceration impacted their community's ability to participate in our democracy.Community members living on the northside of Milwaukee, where a large share of Wisconsin's Black residents live, have long experienced racism and state violence, criminalization and incarceration, poverty, and disenfranchisement (having their rights, especially voting rights, taken away). The community also has a long history of civic and political involvement—from civil rights era demonstrations against racial segregation to more recent protests against police violence. Today, its residents are among the most incarcerated in the US—and people often describe one of its zip codes, 53206, as among the most incarcerated zip codes in the country. This horrible status is the result of deeply entrenched historic and ongoing racial segregation, economic exclusion, and targeted policing that have torn at the fabric of North Side families and community fordecades.Drawing from interviews with community members, the BLOC researchers' long-term observations from their community, and their own and their family members' personal experiences, this report discusses the impact of Wisconsin's criminal legal system on the Black community on the northside of Milwaukee.

Equis 2022 Post-Mortem: Latino Voters & The Case of the Missing Red Wave

June 15, 2023

This reports reflects a high-level analysis of Latino voter trends in the 2022 election. Many narratives — some more substantiated than others — contributed to a sense of uncertainty around Latino voting in the lead-up to the midterms. But what factors ended up shaping the final results, and what do they portend for 2024?At the end of the day, there turned out to be basic stability in support levels among Latinos in highly-contested races, despite another steep decline for Democrats among Hispanics in Florida. In short: the GOP held gains they had made since 2016/2018 but weren't able to build on them.What it Means for 2024: Those who didn't vote in 2022 are the biggest wildcard thisnext cycle. Swing Latinos still seem to default to Dems but are open to individualRepublicans, with greater support possible when there is a major shift in the issueenvironment, imbalanced campaigning, or a weakening of identity bonds. We start2024 where we started 2022: with uncertainty and dynamism.

Civic Participation

Freedom to Learn Freedom to Vote

June 12, 2023

Following the Democratic 2020 presidential election win, we began to see conservative backlash occur at the state level. One of these tactics included targeting education, particularly, the diversification of school curriculums that emphasize the significance of racial and gender identities in the United States. This resource guide serves as our way to bring awareness to the stifling of academic freedom. Black women scholars and authors' writings have become a pinnacle target of these state and local directed efforts to limit knowledge on race in America. In response, this resource guide is our form of solidarity with Black women and femme scholars whose work and livelihoods have been targeted by relentless, misogynoir-led ideological attacks, both politically and socially. We provide a brief history and timeline of the issue, resources to support efforts to combat it, the names and works of the Black women and femme scholars being targeted, and practical ways to get involved–both nationally and locally–to push back against these heinous attacks. As Black Girls Vote continues its mission of advocating and protecting the political rights and well-being of Black women and girls on all fronts, we unwaveringly join the fight to protect and ensure academic freedom for all!

Civic Participation

Asian Americans in the 2022 Midterm Elections: Findings From the 2022 National Poll of Asian American Non-Voters and Voters

May 30, 2023

This report presents the topline results of the 2022 National Poll of Asian American Non-Voters and Voters, a survey commissioned by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC and fielded in the weeks following the 2022 midterm elections. The poll interviewed 2,100 Asian American voters and 700 non-voters (i.e., registered but did not vote and eligible but not registered) and asked respondents about their views on and experiences during the election.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation

The Antidote to Authoritarianism: How an Organizing Revival Can Build a Multiracial Pluralistic Democracy and an Inclusive Economy

May 23, 2023

How can we build a multiracial and pluralistic democracy with an inclusive economy to defeat the rise of authoritarianism? This question is front and center for People's Action Institute and our allies. How can we strengthen our democracy, when some feel it fails them, and others want to eliminate it? In our new White Paper, The Antidote to Authoritarianism, People's Action Institute takes this crisis by the horns. Through in-depth conversations with 27 of the most experienced and thoughtful leaders who build power among the multiracial poor and working class – current and former directors of national networks for social change, academics, philanthropists and on-the-ground organizers engaged in the defense of civil society – we explore current challenges and chart the path towards a shared solution.

Civic Participation

Democracy in Peril: Confronting the Threat Within (2023 State of Black America Executive Summary)

April 18, 2023

Since its first appearance in 1976 under the stewardship of the late Mr. Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., the organization's fifth president, the State of Black America remains one of the most highly-anticipated benchmarks and sources for thought leadership around racial equality in America.In the 47th edition of the State of Black America "Democracy In Peril: Confronting the Threat Within," we are raising the alarm around the explosive growth of far-right and domestic extremism and the threat it poses to our communities, our families, and our nation.

Economic Democracy Explained: Deconcentrating Corporate Power

April 6, 2023

Our economy is increasingly defined by deep and rising inequality that exists across race, income, power, and wealth. Over the last few decades, corporations have lobbied to weaken laws and policies governing antitrust, environmental protections, worker rights and protections, and more—all to further consolidate their own power. The effect of this consolidation has been particularly acute for Black and brown communities who, as a result, face deep and persistent economic insecurity and inequality. Rising corporate consolidation has helped channel power further away from these communities and into the hands of a wealthy few. Addressing this imbalance requires more than policy changes. Power must shift away from corporations and back to the people—particularly Black and brown communities.According to the Center for Economic Democracy, an economic democracy brings more people to the decision-making table to "collectively decide how to use land, labor, and capital to serve the public good." This brief outlines the consequences of corporate actors consolidating their power to act against the public good, and how Black and brown communities can collectively envision and advance a just, inclusive economy.

The Quality of the Decennial Census for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities: An Expanded Approach

March 30, 2023

The Census is the foundation of our democracy. The U.S. Constitution mandates census data collection to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to redraw district lines at all levels of government. The government also uses census data to distribute federal and state funding. Despite the central importance an accurate decennial census plays in our democracy, the census lacks data on census coverage for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities at geographies below the national level.While Asian American and NHPI communities were overcounted nationally, some states had undercounts in both 2010 and 2020. This is a problem because, despite a reported national overcount of these communities in 2020, some Asian American and NHPI communities were still undercounted at lower levels of geography.


In Defense of the Movement: Policing, Criminalization, and Surveillance of Protesters of State Violence

January 25, 2023

The Communities Transforming Policing Fund, Center for Protest Law and Litigation, CS Fund, Piper Fund, and Funders for Justice are calling on our peer philanthropic organizations to partner with us in defense of the movement. The movement to end state violence is unique, but deeply connected to all movements for equality and justice. Every right fought for and won in the United States has come through mass protests and mobilization. Every right taken away and criminalized is enforced by police and often with the use of surveillance, legal targeting, and violence. To reinforce our Democracy and to be in alignment with movements for justice and equality, philanthropy must commit to the long-term legal, safety, and security support of protesters.

Most Latinos Say Democrats Care About Them and Work Hard for Their Vote, Far Fewer Say So of GOP

September 29, 2022

ew Research Center conducted this study to understand the nuances of Hispanic political identity, Hispanics' views about some of the political issues being discussed in the U.S. today, and their interest in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.For this analysis, we surveyed 7,647 U.S. adults, including 3,029 Hispanics, from Aug. 1-14, 2022. This includes 1,407 Hispanic adults on Pew Research Center's American Trends Panel (ATP) and 1,622 Hispanic adults on Ipsos' KnowledgePanel. Respondents on both panels are recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. Recruiting panelists by phone or mail ensures that nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. This gives us confidence that any sample can represent the whole population, or in this case the whole U.S. Hispanic population. (See our "Methods 101" explainer on random sampling for more details.)To further ensure the survey reflects a balanced cross-section of the nation's Hispanic adults, the data is weighted to match the U.S. Hispanic adult population by age, gender, education, nativity, Hispanic origin group and other categories.

Civic Engagement Resource Guide for Allies and Advocates of Black Women with Disabilities

September 1, 2022

This toolkit is an extension of our collaboration investigating the effect of racism and ableism on the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Black women and girls with disabilities. Black women with disabilities exist at margins that have a disparate impact on their health outcomes, education and financial inequality. Our toolkit analyses the effect racism and ableism have on the school to prison pipeline, reproductive justice and economic disadvantage for Black women with disabilities. While it isn't enough to just highlight the experiences Black women with disabilities face in health, economics and education, it is our hope this toolkit will be used in advocacy efforts by the wider disability community and within the Black community. The toolkit offers statistics, readings, facts and myths and research articles to help advocates be more efficient as they fold the experience of Black women and girls with disabilities into their advocacy efforts for both the disability community and the Black community. This toolkit looks to highlight the relationship race and disability have on the lived experience of those who live at the margins, particularly Black women and girls.

Civic Participation