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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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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 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.

Government

Strengthening Democracy: A Progress Report on Federal Agency Action to Promote Access to Voting

March 3, 2023

On March 7, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14019 Promoting Access to Voting, a visionary EO that has the potential to make registration and voting more accessible for millions of Americans, including many communities historically excluded from the political process. This report evaluates 10 federal agencies on their progress in meeting the goals of this important EO. We find that, while a few agencies have made noteworthy progress, most have either made minimal progress on their initial strong commitments or have left important opportunities on the table. Our findings are clear: most federal agencies have room for improvement in their implementation of the Voting Access EO. We estimate that, if these agencies integrate a high-quality voter registration opportunity for the people they serve, as recommended in this report, they could collectively generate an additional 3.5 million voter registration applications per year.

Government

Jurisdictions and Languages that Just Missed Coverage in 2021 Section 203 Determinations

January 27, 2022

Language minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) require that certain states and political subdivisions provide language assistance during elections for certain language minority groups who are unable to speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process. The language provisions of the VRA were introduced in the 1975 reauthorization with the first listing of Section 203 covered jurisdictions being issued following the 1980 Census. The determinations were released again following the 1990 and 2000 Census as prescribed by law. The 2006 reauthorization of the VRA extended the language provisions through 2032 and instructed the Census Bureau on two changes: Use the American Community Survey; conduct the determinations every five years rather than every ten years as done in the past.The language minority groups covered by Section 203 are those that speak Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Spanish languages.This report examines which jurisdictions and languages are close to meeting the Section 203 threshold and may very well meet the threshold during the next determinations scheduled for 2026. These jurisdictions can, and should, proactively begin to provide some level of language assistance to these language groups before the next determinations.

Civic Participation

Power on the Line(s): Making Redistricting Work for Us

May 11, 2021

This guide from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC is aimed at empowering Black, Latino, and Asian American communities, as well as other marginalized communities, to be actively engaged participants in one of the most important, once-a-decade events of American democracy: redistricting.The coalition's guide provides essential information about the redistricting process, such as examples of recent efforts to dilute the voting power of communities of color. It also details the legal protections that remain available to protect against manipulative redistricting schemes, particularly after the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder – which removed a safeguard against racially discriminatory redistricting plans in states and jurisdictions with a record of such practices. The guide is bolstered by clear, specific, and actionable steps that members of Latino, Black, and Asian American communities can take to protect against unfair and discriminatory redistricting plans that would serve to diminish their right to equal representation in government and the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

Civic Participation; Government

Preliminary Report: Impact of Differential Privacy & the 2020 Census on Latinos, Asian Americans and Redistricting

April 5, 2021

The Constitution requires a census every ten years in order to determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition to determining this reapportionment of House seats, Census data are also used for purposes of redistricting, distribution of federal funding, and assisting policy makers, businesses, and other interested stakeholders in assessing and addressing community needs.The Census Bureau has utilized different methods to meet its federal-law statutory mandate to protect respondents' privacy and confidentiality in published statistics. For the 2020 census, the Census Bureau will use a new methodology for this purpose – "differential privacy." Differential privacy is a mathematical method that uses statistical noise, or false information, to alter data so that the link between the data and specific persons or households cannot be ascertained. How the Census Bureau implements differential privacy could negatively affect civil rights enforcement for the next decade, including with respect to redistricting and voting rights.This preliminary report – the first such report from civil rights organizations on this topic – compares the demonstration products (which tested different configurations of differential privacy using 2010 Census data) to published 2010 Census data in an effort to assess the impact of differential privacy on a) total population and racial/ethnic populations and b) redistricting.