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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Featured

Intergenerational Civic Learning: A Path Toward Revitalized Democracy

November 18, 2021

Generational divisions all too often mark political fault lines, but they can also catalyze mutual learning and democratic renewal. Civic intergenerationality is an approach to civic learning grounded in coming together across the life span to create a social and political reality that supports people of all ages. It operates under the assumption that all people are assets to our community, are capable of civic learning, and would benefit from it. By embracing the practice of civic intergenerationality, we can address America's ongoing civic crisis. We can create a community of lifelong, reciprocal learners that uplifts our youngest civic agents while leveraging the experiences and wisdom of older generations

Civic Participation

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

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

Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

February 1, 2017

President Trump recently claimed millions voted illegally in the 2016 election, and called for a "major investigation" into fraud in our election system. His remarks come after years of battles in the states over voting laws that make it harder for many citizens to participate in our elections. Yet the clamor over voter suppression should not obscure a fundamental shared truth: American elections should be secure and free of misconduct. This paper outlines a six-part agenda to target fraud risks as they actually exist -- without unduly disenfranchising eligible citizens.

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

Election Day Long Lines: Resource Allocation

September 17, 2014

Precincts with fewer poll workers and voting machines and more minorities experienced longer voting lines in the 2012 presidential election, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, a MacArthur grantee. The study, Election Day Long Lines: Resource Allocation, provides an in-depth look at the relationships between resource distribution, race, and the length of voting lines in Florida, Maryland, and South Carolina. The 10 South Carolina precincts with the longest wait times had, on average, 64 percent registered black voters, compared to 27 percent across the state. The 10 Maryland precincts with the fewest voting machines per voter had, on average, 19 percent Latino voting age citizens, compared to 7 percent across the state. The study also found many precincts did not comply with state requirements for allocating voting resources.

Campaigns and Elections

The State of Voting in 2014

June 19, 2014

Americans in 22 states, especially minority and low-income individuals, may be unable to vote in this year's elections because of recent changes to voting laws, according to a MacArthur-supported study by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU. The study, The State of Voting in 2014, provides an in-depth look at U.S. voting restrictions that have been passed since 2010, laws that will be effective for the first time in 2014, and major ongoing lawsuits that could change the election landscape. The study highlights the central role of partisanship and race in these new voting laws. Eighteen of 22 new state restrictions were passed through entirely GOP-controlled bodies, and 9 of 15 states previously included under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act due to a history of racial discrimination implemented new voting restrictions since 2010.

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

Voting Law Changes in 2012

October 3, 2011

Analyzes trends in state legislation that make voter registration and voting difficult, including requiring proof of citizenship, eliminating same-day registration, restricting early and absentee voting, and stricter rules for restoring voting rights.

Campaigns and Elections; Government