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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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Election Budgeting: A Deeper Dive Into the Cost of State Elections

November 9, 2023

This report expands upon aspects of MIT's The Cost of Conducting Elections by looking at budgeting from the state and county budgeting perspective.The report covers how states and local governments choose to fund their elections, the role of private and public grants, and the differences between states and some of their counties. For this report, we parsed through the budgets of eight states, and within each of those states, two counties, for a total of 24 entities.The baseline funding of the elections systems of states and localities, while difficult to uncover and parse through, is available on public government websites or through public records requests filed with the appropriate parties.After a deep dive into the way these states and counties fund their elections, several themes emerged, but even more importantly, several big questions about what is next for the election system in our country.

On the Front Line for Democracy: All Voting is Local and All Voting is Local Action Impact Report, Year One: June 2022-June 2023

July 7, 2023

One year ago, All Voting is Local (All Voting) launched as an independent organization. For the four years prior, we had been part of The Leadership Conference Education Fund, which stood up All Voting in March of 2018 as a collaborative campaign together with the ACLU, the American Constitution Society, the Campaign Legal Center, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Our mission then—as now—was to build, hand in hand with impacted communities, sustained and locally tailored advocacy campaigns focused on state and local election ofcials. Our aim: to ensure that voters, particularly those who have long been cut of from access to the ballot, can cast their vote and know it will count.Through this report, you will have the chance to learn more about the work of the first year of All Voting and AVL Action—our 2022 cycle work starting in June of last year and the organizations' eforts to impact policy and legislation through to publication. You'll hear about our plans for the future, including our "moonshot" of ending election sabotage. 

Ballots for All: Improving Language Access for Nevada Voters

April 25, 2022

In 2021, a NV law was enacted that requires all county and city clerks to send every active registered voter a mail ballot before a primary or general election. Though a massive win for NV voters, for this benefit to truly reach every NV voter, election officials must offer ballots and voting materials in the languages that Nevadans actually read and speak.In partnership with groups who serve Nevada's diverse language communities, All Voting is Local Nevada studied geographic and census data to identify populations with significant need of translated ballots and materials. We found that more counties should be voluntarily serving the number of communities in Nevada who speak Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, and Amharic.

Campaigns and Elections

Voter Policies Are Nonexistent in Ohio Jails

December 14, 2021

In 2020, All Voting is Local Ohio teamed up with statewide advocates to assess how difficult it is for eligible voters in jail to cast a ballot. We wanted to know: Did county jails and boards of elections have policies and procedures to facilitate the voting and registration of eligible voters in jails, and did they cooperate with volunteers who sought to provide those services? We used data from public records requests to the boards of elections (BOEs) and jails in Ohio's seven major metropolitan counties. Boards and county jails responded with nothing more than references to the Ohio Revised Code — if they responded at all. Written policies and procedures to facilitate elections are missing throughout the state's largest counties.Each year, at least 150,000 people are booked into local jails in Ohio. If the state is not collecting basic information and the counties do not have universal policies and procedures to facilitate in-jail voting, people who are confined are likely experiencing de facto disenfranchisement.

Civic Participation

Ensuring that Eligible Voters in Florida Jails Have Access to the Ballot

December 14, 2021

All Voting is Local Florida and the ACLU of Florida teamed up to assess how difficult it is for eligible voters in Florida jails to cast a ballot. We wanted to know: Did county jails have policies and procedures to facilitate the voting and registration of eligible voters in jails, and did they cooperate with volunteers who sought to provide those services?We found that most counties have no written policies to facilitate elections in jail. Even for those that do have policies, important steps or details are missing.The right to vote does not end at the door of a holding cell. State laws require eligible voters in jail to be able to cast a ballot. People who are in jail are often awaiting trial, conviction, or are being held for misdemeanor crimes. In Florida, as in most states, these individuals are eligible to register and vote, and no eligible voter should be denied their right. Yet there is a sharp difference between being simply eligible to vote or register and being able to make one's voice heard.

Civic Participation

Ballots for All: Holding Pennsylvania County Jails Accountable for Providing Ballot Access

September 7, 2021

In Pennsylvania, county jail administrators are not fulfilling their legal responsibility to voters. Jails are required by law to provide registration and voting opportunities to all eligible voters. Currently, Pennsylvania county jails do not have a universal process for voter registration, voting by mail, or voter education. We refer to this as de facto disenfranchisement. The freedom to vote is central to building an America that works for us all, and no eligible voter should be denied this right. Through research, advocacy, and community outreach, we will both support jail administrators with tools to increase rates of voter registration and voting and, critically, hold them accountable to ensure all eligible voters can cast a ballot.

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.