Why rural America needs cities

Why rural America needs cities. Brookings Institution. Nathan Arnosti and Amy Liu. November 30, 2018

The 2018 midterm elections affirmed that the deep geographic divides within the United States are here to stay. As they did in 2016, Americans living in rural areas overwhelmingly backed Republican candidates, fueled in part by the sense that the American economy is leaving them behind. The plight of rural America, and ideas for its economic revival, continues to animate policy discussions, including among Democrats concerned about their ability to appeal to blue-collar voters. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The National Popular Vote (NPV) Initiative: Direct Election of the President by Interstate Compact

The National Popular Vote (NPV) Initiative: Direct Election of the President by Interstate Compact.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Thomas H. Neale, Andrew Nolan. October 25, 2018

 The National Popular Vote (NPV) initiative proposes an agreement among the states, an interstate compact that would effectively achieve direct popular election of the President and Vice President without a constitutional amendment. It relies on the Constitution’s grant of authority to the states in Article II, Section 1 to appoint presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct…. ” Any state that joins the NPV compact pledges to award all its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that wins the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of who wins in that particular state. The number of electoral votes won by the national popular vote winners would depend on the number of electoral votes controlled by NPV member states. The compact would, however, come into effect only if its success has been assured; that is, only if states controlling a majority of electoral votes (270 or more) join the compact. Recent action by the Connecticut legislature to join the compact has generated renewed interest in the NPV initiative. At the time of this writing, 11 states and the District of Columbia, which jointly control 172 electoral votes, have joined the compact.

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2018 Midterm Voters: Issues and Political Values

2018 Midterm Voters: Issues and Political Values. Pew Research Center, October 4, 2018.

 Supporters of Republican and Democratic candidates in the upcoming congressional election are deeply divided over the government’s role in ensuring health care, the fairness of the nation’s economic system and views of racial equality in the United States. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Federal Role in U.S. Campaigns and Elections: An Overview

Federal Role in U.S. Campaigns and Elections: An Overview.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. R. Sam Garrett. September 4, 2018

 Conventional wisdom holds that the federal government plays relatively little role in U.S. campaigns and elections. Although states retain authority for most aspects of election administration, a closer look reveals that the federal government also has steadily increased its presence in campaigns and elections in the past 50 years. Altogether, dozens of congressional committees and federal agencies could be involved in federal elections under current law. 

 [PDF format, 43 pages].

Blockchains Will Change the Way the World Votes

Blockchains Will Change the Way the World Votes. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Phillip Meylan, Daniel F. Runde. January 26, 2018

 Amid the clamor around bitcoin’s ascendant (now descendant) value, the potential of a far greater contributor to society has been clouded. Bitcoin—which has in recent months been both the godsend and the bane of speculative investors around the world—is made possible by its underlying blockchain technology. Lauded as a technological innovation on the same magnitude as the internet, blockchains at their simplest are diffuse electronic ledgers that garner efficiency, transparency, and remarkable security through a decentralized structure. You don’t have to understand everything about the underlying technology to see how such a system could have a significant impact on our lives.

Blockchains are now being adopted globally for things as diverse as smart contracts, property rights, health care, and humanitarian assistance. But, blockchains also have enormous potential to revolutionize the way elections are conducted. If implemented correctly, such systems could mobilize new electorates, increase voter participation, reduce election violence, and make elections more secure and reliable than ever before. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Re-Engineering Politicians: How Activist Groups Choose Our Candidates—Long Before We Vote

Re-Engineering Politicians: How Activist Groups Choose Our Candidates—Long Before We Vote. Brookings Institution. Jonathan Rauch and Raymond J. La Raja.  December  7, 2017

Political analysts sometimes refer to the process by which candidacies emerge and test their viability as the “invisible primary”: activities like candidate recruitment, training, networking, grassroots cultivation, and more. The practice has changed drastically in recent years, with far-reaching effects. This paper examines these alterations and their effects on American democracy, especially focusing on the role of independent groups in shaping the primary battlefield. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Electoral College Reform: Contemporary Issues for Congress

Electoral College Reform: Contemporary Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Thomas H. Neale. October 6, 2017

The electoral college method of electing the President and Vice President was established in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and revised by the Twelfth Amendment. It provides for election of the President and Vice President by electors, commonly referred to as the electoral college. A majority of 270 of the 538 electoral votes is necessary to win.

The electoral college has been the subject of criticism and proposals for reform since before 1800. Constitutional and structural criticisms have centered on several of its features: (1) although today all electors are chosen by the voters in the presidential election, it is claimed to be not fully democratic, since it provides indirect election of the President; (2) it can lead to the election of candidates who win the electoral college but fewer popular votes than their opponents, or to contingent election in Congress if no candidate wins an electoral college majority; (3) it results in electoral vote under- and over-representation for some states between censuses; and (4) “faithless” electors can vote for candidates other than those they were elected to support.

Legislative and political criticisms include (1) the general ticket system, currently used in all states except Maine and Nebraska, which is alleged to disenfranchise voters who prefer the losing candidates in the states; (2) various asserted “biases” that are alleged to favor different states and groups; and (3) the electoral college “lock,” which has been claimed to provide an electoral college advantage to both major parties at different times.

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