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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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Free Voices– Democracy Ensured: Advocating for Change for Eligible Voters in Jail

November 15, 2022

The ACLU of Wisconsin Union offers recommendations that would help ease barriers to jail-based voting. These recommendations follow the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation's statewide analysis on jail voting in October, which found that eligible voters incarcerated in Wisconsin jails continue to face numerous obstacles when attempting to exercise their right to vote.The report lays out solutions for the short, medium and long term, providing county sheriffs and jail administrators with a foundation for how to design systems that will not only enable eligible voters to access the ballot but also empower them to engage further in our democratic process.

Civic Participation

Ballots for All: Ensuring Wisconsinites in Jail Have Voting Access 2022

October 17, 2022

As seen in the 2020 and 2021 "Ballots for All: Ensuring Eligible Wisconsinites in Jail Have Equal Access to Voting," many of Wisconsin's county jails lacked documented, robust, and practiced jail voting policies, which in turn resulted in unacceptable jail-voter participation in the 2020 presidential election. In Wisconsin alone, there are approximately 13,000 individuals in county jails; stunningly, only 50 of whom cast their ballot in 2020.This report aims to analyze previous steps taken and any progress by Wisconsin jail administrators to address formerly identified challenges and shortfalls in their respective jail voting policies, which can itself facilitate widespread de facto disenfranchisement in Wisconsin. Furthermore, this update aims to highlight the fundamental and intersectional barriers that prevent eligible Wisconsinites, both within and outside of the carceral system, from fully participating in the voting process.

Civic Participation

Ballots for All: Ensuring Eligible Wisconsinites in Jail Have Equal Access to Voting

June 23, 2021

Our democracy works best when all eligible Wisconsinites participate. The freedom to vote is central to building an America that works for us all. But too many Wisconsinites face needless and discriminatory barriers that limit this right. This is particularly true of eligible Wisconsinites in county jails.This report updates our July 2020 report, Ballots for All: Ensuring Eligible Wisconsin Voters in Jail Have Equal Access to Voting. In the past year, many jail administrators have taken small but important steps to increase ballot access for individuals in their care. Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions on who can support jail-based voter registration and absentee ballot application events in county jails, advocates and jail administrators found creative ways to ensure that eligible Wisconsinites could have their voices heard in the 2020 elections. While this is progress, troubling barriers remain. This report offers additional recommendations for state and local officials to protect the freedom to vote for every eligible Wisconsinite.