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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Who Profited from Election Deniers?

January 17, 2023

As election-denying secretary of state candidates spouted rhetoric that eroded people's faith in our free and fair elections, political operatives behind the scenes were raking in the dough.A new Issue One review of state campaign finance filings reveals a slice of which companies and political consultants across the country converted election denialism into profit during the 2022 midterm elections.

Campaigns and Elections

3 Existential Threats to Our Elections

April 6, 2022

This report underscores three existential threats facing U.S. elections:  an exodus of election officials due to threats and harassment, the potential of election manipulation by partisan actors, and inadequate funding of our critical election infrastructure. It calls for federal action to address these troubling trends, including combatting election disinformation, preventing efforts to subvert future elections, increasing federal and state funding for elections, and protecting election workers from threats of violence.

Campaigns and Elections

Extreme Gerrymanderers

February 22, 2022

Gerrymandering is the intentional practice of manipulating the boundaries of congressional districts to provide an unfair advantage for a specific party or group. The practice has increasingly created barriers to representative democracy and allows politicians to select their voters, rather than allowing voters to pick their politicians.New maps that create the boundaries between congressional districts are drawn every 10 years, following each decennial census. In the wake of the 2020 Census, state legislators crafted a number of hyperpartisan and discriminatory gerrymanders. This report highlights a dozen of the worst.


Fair Pay: Why Congress Needs to Invest in Junior Staff

January 25, 2022

Legislative staff are crucial to the daily operations of Congress, both on Capitol Hill and in district offices. Congressional staffers help craft policy, advance legislation, and handle inquiries from constituents and the press. But despite their responsibilities, staffers in lawmakers' personal offices, congressional policy committees, and district offices are widely and consistently undercompensated for their work, especially in entry-level positions.While significant progress has been made recently to address inadequate staff pay in the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), further steps are needed to ensure that entry-level staffers from all socioeconomic backgrounds are able to thrive in both chambers of Congress.Fairly compensating congressional staff, especially junior-level staffers, will help Congress attract and retain a diverse and capable workforce. Giving staff both the financial incentive and ability to stay in their roles and advance upward means that members of Congress won't need to keep retraining employees and that valuable institutional knowledge will be retained. In these ways, better financial compensation for staff will both help curb the brain drain from Capitol Hill to K Street and guard against the undue influence of special-interest lobbyists.


Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform

January 20, 2022

Stark partisan dividing lines in Congress currently distract from potential areas of common ground in fostering an election system that puts voters first by being fair, accessible, secure, and transparent. These crucial topics include voter registration, voter identification, options to vote before Election Day, clean and accurate voter rolls, and audits.This report outlines a realistic framework for bipartisan election legislation. If implemented, this framework would massively improve election administration and Americans' voting experience.Federal election legislation, while rare, has a long track record of being bipartisan. For as much attention as members of Congress and the public have paid to how Americans vote, the most recent comprehensive elections bill passed in October 2002. But the urgent need for shoring election infrastructure becomes more obvious with each election.This report authored by a working group of five nonprofit think tanks elevates the election and voting reforms that have gotten lost in the highly partisan federal debate about elections. The working group comprises individuals from five nonprofit think tanks from across the political spectrum: Bipartisan Policy Center, American Enterprise Institute, Issue One, R Street Institute, and Unite America. The data used in this report is sourced from Voting Rights Lab. We came together to publish this report to ensure that important concepts—such as accessible voter registration and accurate voter rolls—are understood to be nonpartisan proposals that will improve elections and not benefit one party more than another.

Campaigns and Elections